How social is your contact centre?
Social media as a customer contact channel, many companies struggle with it. Because what to do with all that customer feedback that is expressed so publicly? Should you do anything with it at all? Yes, is the short but clear answer. If your organisation has a social media profile, you will absolutely have to provide customer service through this channel. Simply because it can no longer be avoided in this time of increasing digital customer.
Social media give you the opportunity to provide great customer service. Because by handling complaints and questions from customers quickly, efficiently and with a sense of empathy, you also show other visitors to your social media channel that customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to your organisation.
But beware, because the opposite is also true: if you leave customer questions unanswered and the customer feels ignored as a result of this, you run the risk that not only the customer in question will turn to the competitor, but many with him. Your response – or the lack of it – in many ways determines the customer’s future purchasing behaviour.
So be careful when you decide to use social media for customer service. If you're going to do it, do it right. In this blog we give you useful tips that you can immediately apply in your contact centre.
Marketing team or contact centre?
The first question that is often raised is where social media customer contact belongs. Will it be looked after by the marketing team, or should it be housed in the contact centre? Despite the fact that consumers have been using social media to communicate with brands and companies for years, the marketing department often still owns this channel. It is that team that creates the organisation’s social media profile and takes care of the customer interactions.
The risk of this is that customers – at least some of them – will fall through the cracks. On the one hand because marketing teams are not focused on dealing with customer questions, certainly not 24/7, and on the other hand because customer interactions via social media that are handled by the marketing team fall outside the CRM system and therefore outside the 360-degree customer view.
Instead, contact centres usually use an omnichannel customer contact solution that integrates all channels, so customer information and the complete contact history across all channels are immediately visible to employees. In addition, social media interactions are routed in the same way to the most suitable employee. And if necessary, there are workflows that determine how a customer question can be passed on internally or escalated to another department. The less often the customer needs to repeat their question, the better. So for a seamless customer experience (CX), it makes much more sense to bring social media into the contact centre, just like all other customer contact channels.
But it is also by far the best choice for contact centre employees. For them, it is extremely demotivating to have to deal with the frustrations of customers who have not received the desired answer via social media, while the employees themselves have no control over this. They want to be able to help the customer efficiently and to have the right tools to do this. Therefore, it is also better for the employee experience (EX) to accommodate social media in the contact centre and to ensure that this team can serve customers via this channel.
Reputational damage or customer loyalty?
But let's take a step back: why would you choose to add social media as a customer contact channel in the first place? It is a channel where customers can publicly exchange experiences about your company, brand or organisation. Isn't the risk of public discussions about negative experiences – and the resulting reputational damage – too great? Yes, you do run that risk. But those discussions will take place anyway, whether you facilitate them or not. So isn't it much smarter to play an active role in them? To have every customer question and response proactively handled by a team that is specialised in this, to show that you take every customer seriously? That you not only respond to positive messages, but also – especially! – pick up and deal with negative feedback quickly and efficiently?
If you are capable of doing that, social media suddenly becomes the contact channel of choice to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty!
And not only that. It also offers you the chance to encourage self-service and thereby reduce contact centre congestion, because the answer you post in response to one customer's question will undoubtedly apply to many other customers.
Customer contact via social media is therefore not only better for customers and employees, but also leads to cost savings. On the one hand, because it simply costs less to retain an existing customer than it does to acquire new customers, and on the other hand, because self-service reduces the pressure on the contact centre.
The best approach
Of course, the decision to (also) handle customer contact via social media does not happen overnight. It is important to determine a clear strategy in advance and to draw up a playbook. To think about things such as:
- Which social media platforms will you support? – that of course depends on your target audience
- During which hours will you be operative? – be clear about this to your customers
- What will be the response time? – a good rule of thumb is to respond within an hour
- What will be your tone of voice? – be human, it doesn't need to be so formal
- What will be the workflow in case of escalations and crisis situations?
- KPIs – for example around response time, handling time and customer sentiment
If you don't have a 24/7 social media team, let customers know when you're going offline and provide them with links to self-service channels and contact centre contact information. You can also choose to use a chatbot for common service requests, both during and outside 'business hours'. Bots give customers immediate answers to simple questions, especially if you have a decent underlying knowledge base. Quick as well as efficient!
Content – dos and don'ts
The point that will inevitably come up when choosing social media as a contact channel is what this channel will actually be used for. What purpose will it serve?
Don't make the common mistake of using the social media profile to spam customers with promotions and other sales talk. Listen! That is the way to get to know your customers and to respond to their wishes and needs. Conversion be a natural follow-on from this.
Your social media customer service channel is a good place to share educational content, such as an instructional video or a blog post with best practices. You can also post updates about known service issues and possibly an estimate of when they will be resolved. This reduces the number of calls to customer contact employees.
Social media is primarily intended for relatively simple customer questions that the contact centre team can respond to briefly and quickly. It is less suitable for complex customer questions. Should a customer post a question or issue that requires more extensive feedback than what the social media platform is intended for, let them know where to find a solution. In some cases this could be an instructional video on YouTube, but it may also be that they need to get in touch with the contact centre. In any case, be sure to not send them from pillar to post, but to a concrete place where they will find an answer to their question.
Which social media platforms?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube… which social media platform(s) do you choose? Customer engagement will grow with each channel you offer, but of course it also depends on your customer base and content. Via Facebook you focus on the personal network of the customer, while LinkedIn addresses the business network. Instagram is generally aimed at a younger audience, and YouTube can be used for instructional videos. Each channel serves a specific customer segment and a specific purpose. So it just depends on who you want to reach and what for.
In some cases, it is also worth providing your customers with a forum that functions as a user group. Here customers can exchange experiences and tips & tricks with each other, and as a company or organisation you can share information with them, proactively or in response to a discussion that takes place. Moreover, such a forum provides a wealth of knowledge and insight, because it is precisely here that customers often take the trouble to describe their experiences in more detail. This knowledge can provide the basis for product or service improvements.
Keeping your eye on the ball
But how do you know what is being said about your company, brand or organisation? Comments posted on the company profile are easy to monitor, but what if a discussion takes place on another account or platform? In many cases, customers will tag your company name when they post a comment, but not always. However, a response from customer service can sometimes make sense, even if customers have not contacted your company directly.
It is therefore important to keep your eye on the ball and to keep track of relevant discussions. To do this, you can use a data analytics tool that tracks mentions of your company name, measures customer sentiment and discovers trends. This way you always stay informed of what is going on within your target group, and you can respond appropriately.
Are you also thinking about taking the step to using social media as a customer contact channel? Could you use some help with this? Let us know! Our experts will be happy to help you.
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