DigitalNews Today: 6 Steps To Effective Social Customer Care for Brands

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6 Steps To Effective Social Customer Care for Brands

Monday, July 27, 2015


Social media is fast becoming a significant game changer that is disrupting and shaping in greater ways, the future of traditional customer service centers. More than ever, Brands need to extend their customer service to every important channel, including social media. Here are some tips describing a model through which Brands can plan their social care strategy from concept to launch and elevate their customer engagement to new levels.

Customers, especially the younger demographic, are more comfortable than ever before in interacting and seeking help from Brands over social channels. However, the success of your social customer care will depend on a wide variety of factors such as scope definition, governance, organization setup, KPI definitions, etc.

There is no doubt that social media has expanded the traditional boundaries of customer service. Consider the following trends:

  • The number of people engaging in online conversations with brands is increasing year-on-year.
  • Nearly one in three social media users prefer to reach out to a brand for customer service through a social channel compared to the phone
  • Consumers that have positive social care experience are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand to others.
  • Consumers expect a rapid social care response – many within 30 minutes.
  • Shifting customers to social media channels is more cost-effective and produces higher satisfaction than traditional models
  • A greater percentage of Brands experienced more reduction in support costs from implementing social care.

What does this mean for the traditional customer service centers? Considering the above trends, I have decided to share with you effective steps that offer greater social value and loyalty while positioning your Brand as a socially responsive and responsible brand.

Enabling social customer care should be a well-planned journey with some thought given to defining and implementing the following steps:

Strategic Plan: There is a need to ensure you have a clear strategy, primarily regarding who should respond to what kinds of messages. This is where you define and develop the key step for your social customer care strategy and align it with the organization’s social and customer service strategies and goals.  

In developing the strategic plan, you also need to put into consideration the prioritization of messaging as it may be impossible to respond to every mention of your brand – starting from urgent requests, negative sentiments, technical questions, commendations and frequently asked questions

Social Listening: This is a very critical step that is central to the success of any social customer care that needs to be proactive. Listening in to what your customers are saying about your brand on social media, brand handle mentions, mentions of your competitors, and support indicators is a starting point to positioning your brand.

Setting up social customer care is to define the company’s listening strategy. A social media strategic listening program needs to be designed to cover all the key channels where there is active discussion about your company’s brands/products.

Participate - Engage: It is important to answer questions around who manages the social queries. A social command center is a great means to listen and participate over social channels. Brands can choose to have either dedicated agents who will service only over the social channel or blended agents who have access to and service for customers across media types. For example, a blended agent can answer incoming phone calls, answer support emails and also do chats.

Evaluate - Respond: Having strategized, listened in on mentions and conversations and effectively engaged your audience, the next step is to evaluate the three previous steps using a detailed social historical tool that will show you the historical perspective of your brand’s consumer or transactional engagement over time.

To establish a two-way conversation that can result in a higher engagement and positive reviews and sentiments for the Brand, the social media customer care agent can then analyze and evaluate all types of engagement and route technical or reputational queries to relevant departments. 

Measure Key Metrics: Ensure that you measure for the key performance indexes that you have integrated in your strategic plan. Today, it is easier and even more so strategic to measure social KPIs by tracking the volume of engagement, the average response and average handle times and most importantly the customer positive to negative sentiment ratio.

Establish a Social Customer Care Center: Customers today are increasingly comfortable getting served via social media customer service. The social customer care center is a brand’s social media command center where a Brand’s social media team can monitor and engage social conversation around their brand and market. The command center helps create order out of chaos. People at the command center can gauge the social health of their brand in a single glance.

Note however, that social media adoption as a social customer care center is not without its challenges and benefits. Here are a few issues to consider in that line

The Challenges: In today’s hypercompetitive world, most of the top Brands - have become present on Twitter (and other social channels) with the help of a dedicated social customer service team. In this arena, Brands’ reputations are directly proportional to their response-rate effectiveness.  A brand needs to have an expert reputation management team in place, to constantly monitor, evaluate and manage the organization’s reputation.

The Benefits of Social Customer Care: The important benefits of social customer care include:
• Lowered costs of customer service.
• Increased customer connection and the potential for brand advocacy.
• Quickened response to customers, leading to enhanced customer experience.
• Increased customer loyalty.

The voice of customers today has an unprecedented reach. There are now more than 500 million Twitter users and more than one billion Facebook users. Thus, Brands have no choice but to incorporate social media into their customer service strategy, so they can connect with consumers, increase the level of understanding and strengthen relationships.

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