Social media is a valuable customer support channel. It can be seamlessly integrated as part of a multichannel customer support strategy. It is one of the best channels to provide proactive customer service and thereby, exceed customer expectations.
However, a contact center that is considering adopting social media to provide customer service will have to overcome certain hurdles.
1. Coordination with other Support Channels
It is important that you establish the same set of rules and interactions for social media customer support that you have for the other channels. Otherwise, you will end up providing inconsistent customer service. What you promise on the phone to customers and what you communicate via social media should be uniform. For example, if there is a 30-day refund policy, it should be upheld in both the social media and traditional contact center mediums. So, before you deploy social media in your contact center to provide customer support, establish the rules first, and make sure it is communicated to all agents. Efforts should be made by quality analysts to make sure that the agents adhere to the rules as well.
2. Social Media as First Point of Contact
37% of the 500 million tweets that takes place on Twitter daily are related to customer service. This is based on a study conducted by a New York University. Now, Twitter has a 140-character restriction. So solving a complex problem via Twitter is not practical. What a contact center can do in this case is, let customers know that they have been heard and that the problem will be solved as soon as possible. However, solving such a complex problem is not viable via Twitter; it has to be done offline, preferably over the phone. The customers can certainly use Twitter as the initial point of contact. This way, they will be able to avoid long queues. It is a win-win situation for both customers and the contact centers. Customers who do not like to call a call center can resort to social media to report a problem or to ask a query. Contact centers will be able to lower the call volume.
3. Service-level Planning and Staffing
It is important to have a clear picture about service-level expectations, and proper staffing. Personally, a lot of people take social media for granted, and it is fine. However, when you deploy social media as a professional channel for business, you cannot afford to do that. A query on Facebook/Twitter has to be answered immediately. You cannot wait till the close of business, consolidate all the complaints, and then take action. As soon as a customer raises a query/complaint on social media, you have to respond to it, and take necessary steps to resolve it. You have to have an idea on how many tweets your contact center will receive in a day, and have enough agents to address all of them in a timely manner. The trick is in finding the right balance between managing costs and being responsive.
There is a difference between using social media on a personal level and on a corporate level. You cannot communicate with a customer the way you communicate with your friends or family. Professionalism has to be maintained. The same empathy and courteousness that you show on the phone have to be maintained on social media too. Moreover, there are a number of ways how social media applications can be used. Hence, training your contact center agents on social media customer support is vital. You have to invest in training, and you have to establish protocols clearly for handling responses.
5. Research & Development
For a contact center, getting maximum information about a customer or about a potential customer is crucial. Social media is a vast arena where you can get a lot of information. What they talk about on Facebook, whom they follow on Twitter, the Pins they are interested in – all are valuable information for a business. By capturing all this information, classifying them, and identifying them, you will be able to make sense of the social media noise. This will help you to provide exceptional customer service, improve your products, provide faster services, and thus make your contact center operations very efficient.
Now, it is highly recommended that you choose one primary channel while providing social media customer support. For example, announce Twitter as your main channel, and then assign agents to manage it. However, it is also important to monitor the other platforms as well, a customer may decide to communicate via Facebook. Post on your company profile, the schedule of availability.
As per contact center experts, ideal staffing, proper training, and effective strategies will help a contact center to take advantage of the social media channels to its maximum, and thus increase productivity, and provide excellent customer service.