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Social media, meet customer service!
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Social media, meet customer service!



Customer service & social media for best business practices with Chuck Dennis, Vice President & Senior Consultant for Knowledgence Associates

Customer service & social media for best business practices with Chuck Dennis, Vice President & Senior Consultant for Knowledgence Associates



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  • Introduction - This is an enormous topic, and one that cannot possibly be fully explored in half an hourMy goal here is simply to give you some things to think about, for your business, or you employer’s business, or your client’s business.My hope here is that this will inspire further discussion, and development of some of the ideas put forth this evening.That said, I will not be unveiling any silver bullets tonight that will cure all of your customer service problems with one click of the mouse. Sorry. For those who were hoping for that, umm… the bar is still open downstairs…
  • When old school customer service tries to be proactive, they call it telemarketing, or “inside sales.” Or “spam.”Your philosophy, commitment, and strategy around customer service should not change, or be any better or worse, because of the medium. So get your service house in order before putting it out there for the world on social media. Your successes could make you an international star; your blunders could make you a global laughingstock.People may try to reach you in other (more expensive) ways if failing to get satisfaction via social media, but failing to get a response may also cause them to leave you. The biggest reason people stop doing business with an organization is the feeling that the org. does not care about them.
  • check it hourly for big companies, daily for small companies. search industry keywords and competitor names daily.
  • First some definitions, so we are on the same pageSocial Media = “a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate.” - Anthony J. Bradley, Gartner, Inc.Customer Service = “any interaction between a customer / prospect and any member of an organization that is offering them something of perceived value.” – Chuck Dennis, Knowledgence Associates (with a nod to Jan Carlzon’s “Moments of Truth”)I am talking about before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale. I am NOT just referring to the people with headsets in call centers, or people behind the counter at the “Returns” desk.You can see, I am painting with some broad strokes here, but the principles apply to most businesses and their customers. Big ticket items, household brands, or obscure niche businesses or products.
  • Don’t you just hate pretentious people who quote themselves?
  • Business owners, product developers, salespeople – no one wanted to deal with the details of ensuring customers had their questions and complaints addressed, so a department was created
  • Social media started as fun stuff… a way for people to connect and share things of interest with their friends, family, and colleagues.Some smart businesses took notice of this and thought, “How can we make this work for us, in building stronger relationships with our customers (and yes, making more money)?Not to be cynical, but businesses aren’t looking for new “friends;” they are looking for new sources of revenue.But some of them got the idea that relationship-building with customers is a really good way to attract new customers, and gain more interaction with existing customers by sharing relevant content. Thus began social media marketing.
  • As social media and business became more comfortable with one another, more opportunities began to reveal themselves. Interactions with, and testimonials from, happy customers was a more effective sales tool than old school advertising.But unlike old school advertising, social media allowed, in fact encouraged, feedback from the people being marketed and sold to. Those interactions with happy customers were great, but what about the not-so-happy ones, and the downright pissed off ones?
  • Some businesses chose to “defend” their products / services / actions against the negative accusations, often resulting in petty arguments. Never a good strategy
  • Other companies would ignore, or worse, suppress the negative posts, sticking their heads in the sand. A very poor strategy.
  • Still others would spout the same ol’ same ol’ at customers – please call us at 1-800-BLA-BLAH for customer service. New media, same message. Not impressive.
  • The medium / platform has changed but the rules of great service remain the sameFirst, shut up and LISTEN – resist all urges to fix something before you know what is brokenSecond, if there is a problem, apologize for the customer’s inconvenience – you’re not necessarily apologizing for an error on your part, just empathizing w/ customerThird, inform customer of what you are going to do, even if all you can do is escalate to a more knowledgeable person Fourth, do it!Fifth, inform customer of what you have done, and ASK if that is satisfactory. If not, find out what customer wants done, and try to do it.Sixth, put a cherry on top. When all is said and done, and the problem is resolved, give something useful. A discount is always nice, or a freebie. DO NOT give promotional items to a customer who has just experienced a problem!
  • To “hear” the angry customer on social media, you need to be “listening” wherever they post their complaintsTo resolve their complaint, you must be listening ALL THE TIME – the sooner you can catch the complaint, the sooner you can resolve it and maintain the relationshipA sincere apology, and some compensation of value (not a hat or a pen with your logo, but a discount or a complementary product)
  • let everyone see how well (or not!) you take care of customers / prospects Even with unhappy customers? Especially with unhappy customers! This creates a moment of truth for your organization. Nobody is perfect, hardly anyone expects you to be perfect. But everyone expects you to clean up your mess!Obviously, the entire situation cannot, and should not, be played out on the social media stage, but allowing the problems and the final resolutions of those problems to be seen creates an aura of trust around your business.Once a problem is successfully resolved, consider posting a case study on the problem and how you and the customer resolved it
  • Make happy customers part of your “team,” by allowing them to add their comments and suggestions to posted questions / complaints from other customersOther customers are often the best or the harshest spokespeople for your business; it’s up to you to cultivate the right ones and encourage their participationIdentify and recognize those helpful customers for the assistance they’ve given – create evangelists!People trust each other more than they trust businesses – accept that fact and make the most of it
  • You getting the picture? You need to be where the customers and prospects are. Do not let this enormous group of consumers pass you by!
  • this mostly depends on where your customers and prospects areyawanna catch fish, go where the fish areYou already know how to use these applications & platforms for your personal use; identify ways to use them for providing service!
  • Experts are still falling over themselves trying to figure out legit ROI for social media marketingNow trying to do the same for social media customer service Responsiveness - Average reply time. Respond as quickly as possible, but respond! 60% of businesses complaints on Twitter NEVER RESPOND – imagine not responding to 60% of your calls!Complaints – Is the number decreasing? Across all channels, not just social mediaPraise – Is this number increasing? Across all channels, not just social mediaQuick resolutions – Are you able to eliminate or reduce calls to customer service Units sold – has this overall number risen since using social media?
  • enlisted over 2500 BB personnel from across all aspects of the business, all over the country, on Twitter, answer product questions, give recommendations, troubleshoot technology challenges and solve customer service issuesTransparent! All Twelp tweets are collected into one feed, at http://www.bbyfeed.com/, so that everyone can see what is being asked and what has been answered
  • updates on delayed or cancelled flights (as opposed to those messages over the PA system that no one can ever understand)use tools like radian6 or clarabridge to monitor social media for problems with any travellerjump in with “Sorry to hear your flight w/ XYZ Air was delayed/cancelled. If you come to Gate X, ABC Air has a flight leaving for your destination in 40 minutes. We will honor your XYZ ticket.”Get passenger on plane, then give him a free drink = customer for life!
  • They practically put social media marketing & customer service on the mapput a human face on their business, and make it fun to engage with themstarts w/ CEO Tony “Shay” Hsiehfor personal one-on-one service, they invite customers to use telephone or email, but not as a way of brushing them off; rather, as a way of steering customers to someone who can help them immediatelyZappos personnel are as fun and as competent on phone / email as they are on social mediaGoofy videos
  • – Shankman airport storyweary businessman gets on his flight hometo amuse himself and his followers, he posts a joke tweet to Morton’s Steakhouse near Newark NJ, saying that he is tired and hungry, and could you have a steak waiting for me when I land?Hah-hah, funny stuff. But to his amazement, when he lands, he finds a tuxedo-clad man with a bag from Morton’s, with a full steak dinner with trimmings, waiting for him!Much has been made since, about whether this is a customer service story or a publicity stunt (knowing Shankman has 100K followers, worldwide)I say it is customer service, marketing, sales, and PR all rolled into one!Giving great service to a great customer in your place of biz is one thing, but going out of your way to FIND your great customer, and then WOW him with over-the-top service, is absolute genius!Businesses can’t afford to do this kind of thing on a regular basis, but to do them once in a while, while providing top notch service as a matter of course, will really put a business on the map
  • Some pooh-pooh the social media customer serviceIt’s only used as a last resort when other channels are clogged, or just suckIt’s an electronic way to “cut to the head of the line” in the customer service queueit’s the electronic equivalent of going into and pulling a major nutty until you get attention, like a 3 year oldTo those people, I say “yeah? So?”we are still dancing on the tip of this iceberg we call social media – so if it helps improve service in the world of commerce, then it’s good; if it makes old methods of service obsolete, then it’s good; if it makes customers happy, then it’s freakin’ great!But more lines are blurred here. Recently, in a restaurant in TX, a woman overheard a bartender make some comments that she did not care for. Instead of confronting the bartender, she tweeted that he was a “twerp” and a “jackoff.” The restaurant manager read the tweet from home, called the bar, talked to the woman, and asked her to leave the premises. Was this action over the top? If she had accosted the bartender verbally, calling him those names in the bar, she would have been given the boot, and no one would have thought any more of it. But since she did it on Twitter, many people think she is entitled to say whatever she feels. However, if she delivered her sentiments in the bar, maybe a dozen people might have witnessed it. But this woman had hundreds of followers on Twitter, so her sentiments were heard by many, many more people. Similarly, if a food critic writes a negative review of a restaurant in the newspaper, that is considered fair game. If that same critic stood up in the restaurant, and said loudly, This food SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS!!!, he would probably be asked to leave. My point is not to judge who is right and who is wrong here, but to raise the point that the impact of social media and business is still a work in progress and that we are still defining what are acceptable ways of managing it.Thank you all for your attention tonight, and I’d be happy to try to answer any questions you might have. And if I can’t answer them on the spot, I will be happy to track down answers and get back to you. (ya see what I did? That’s customer service there!)

Social media, meet customer service! Social media, meet customer service! Presentation Transcript

  • an alliance that blurs boundaries
    Social media, meet customer service!
  • Big topic, little time
  • take-aways for tonight
    Old School customer service is about being reactive. SocialCustomerMediaServiceis about being proactive as much as reactive
    The same basic principles of customer service apply, but bring your "A" gamebecause now you are on the worldwide stage
    Alwaysrespond; never not respond (unless it is to unwarranted hostility or insanity); better late than never, but best immediately
    Be timely. Be topical. Be relevant. Be irreverent. Create customer deals tied in with current events / weather / etc.
    The lines between marketing, PR, sales, and service are blurred
  • And finally…
    Go looking for trouble!
    Conduct ongoing vigilance for your product or company name
    Identify problems before they come looking for you, and address them proactively!
  • First, some definitions
    Social Media: “a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate.” - Anthony J. Bradley, Gartner, Inc.
  • Definitions CONT.
    Customer Service: “any interaction between a customer / prospect and any member of an organization that is offering something of perceived value.” – Chuck Dennis, Knowledgence Associates
  • Evolution, part 1
    Customer service started as a necessity
    Eventually, the quality of customer service became a prime differentiator between businesses
  • Evolution, part 2
    Social media started as fun stuff
    Businesses saw this and said “We wanna play, too!” (and, maybe, make some money…)
  • Soon, opportunities began to reveal themselves to businesses
    Words from happy customers = $$$!
    Words from UNhappy customers = not so much
  • The dawning of socialcustomermediaservice!
  • Great idea, but it wasn’t always pretty
    Some businesses chose to “argue” with customers about their products / services / actions
  • Others would ignore negativity
  • Still others would simply spout the same old same old
    “For customer service, please call us at 1-800-YOU-LOSE
    press 5 for ‘Customer Service’
    press 1 for ‘English’
    press 3 for ‘a live agent’
    and then be prepared to wait several hours while we find someone who will speak with you. In the meantime, here’s some nice Kenny G music to listen to.”
  • SocialCustomerMediaServiceIt’s New! It’s Improved! It’s Old Fashioned!
    • The medium / platform has evolved, but the rules of great service remain the same
    First, shut up and LISTEN
    Second, if there is a problem, apologize immediately for the customer’s inconvenience
    Third, inform customer of what you are going to do
    Fourth, do it!
    Fifth, inform customer of what you have done, and ASK if that is satisfactory
    Sixth, if warranted, put a cherry on top
  • Social Media & the Angry Customer
    Angry Customers typically want 3 things:
    to be heard
    to have their problem resolved ASAP
    to be apologized to and/or compensated for their inconvenience
    Social Media gives you the opportunity to do all of these
  • The difference? Transparency!
    Let everyone see how well you take care of your customers!
    Most people do not expect perfection, but they do expect you to clean up your mess
  • Encourage happy customers to be part of your team
    Provide forums or communities where customers can speak freely, asking questions & providing answers
    Businesses should participate, but not dominate!
    The best company spokespeople are happy customers
  • Why is social media crucial for customer service?
    75% of Americans use some sort of social media
    15 minutes of every hour online is spent on social media
    More than 750 million active users on Facebook
    People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
    Approximately 200 million Twitter users
    110 million tweets sent per day
    1300 tweets sent per second
    over 100 million LinkedIn users
    490 million unique YouTube visitors per month
  • Cost-savings by effective socialcustomermediaservice
    When customer’s needs are not met by social media
    42% will call Customer Service - $15 per interaction
    17% will use email - $3 per interaction
    16% will use online chat - $5 per interaction
    1.6% will visit retail location - $20 per interaction
    The rest will give up and take their business elsewhere
  • So, what tools are best for what?
    Facebook – ubiquitous but limited to those you’ve already connected with
    Twitter – short & sweet, open to everyone
    YouTube – open to everyone, provides entertainment and product instruction & repair
    LinkedIn – serious business site, but you need to be connected to your audience
    Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla all use geolocation to speak with and make offers to “local” customers
    Sponsored or independent forums & communities – great for all of the above
  • Socialcustomermediaservice metrics
    What do you measure?
    Quick resolutions
    Units sold
  • Anecdotal evidence (1)
    Best Buy’s “Twelpforce”
    2500 BB employees from across all aspects of the business
    Using Twitter, answer product questions, give recommendations, troubleshoot technology challenges and solve customer service issues
  • Anecdotal evidence (2)
    Major Airlines
    Provide immediate and accurate updates on delays & cancellations
    Utilize tools such as Radian6 or Clarabridge to monitor social media for any problems from any traveller
    If you don’t jump in & help your customer, your competitor just might!
  • Anecdotal evidence (3)
    Made excellent service “cool” & “fun”
    Starts at the top with blogging CEO
    Immediate service on Twitter
    Goofy home-made videos on YouTube
    All combined to make them the online shoe store of choice (and purchased by Amazon for $1.2 Billion)
  • Anecdotal evidence (4)
    Morton’s Steakhouse
    Weary business traveller - as a joke –tweets request for steak to meet him @ airport when he lands
    Hah-Hah! Morton’s does it!
    Much huh-bub since: is this greatservice or a PR stunt on Morton’s part?I think it is both, with some marketing& sales strategy mixed in
    Talk about over the top, proactive business sense!
  • Final thoughts
    Some pooh-pooh SocialCustomerMediaService
    It’s only used as a last resort when other channels are clogged, or just suck
    It’s an electronic way to “cut to the head of the line” in the customer service queue
    It’s the electronic equivalent of going to a store and pulling a nutty until you get attention, like a 3 year oldTo those people, I say “Yeah? So?”
  • Final thoughts
    If it helps improve service in the world of commerce, then it’s good
    If it makes old methods of service obsolete, then it’s really good
    if it makes customers happy, then it’s freakin’ great!
    Innovations like SocialCustomerMediaServicekeep pushing the envelope, and everyone reaps the benefits!
  • Thank you for your attention!
    Want to know more? Let’s talk!
    Chuck Dennis
    Knowledgence Associates
    (617) 909-0176