Social Customer Service, Care and Support, Digital Economy Report


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Focused on industry research and analysis, Ahain Group's insights provide businesses with comprehensive reports on the latest trends in social business across a variety of markets and industry categories.

Detailing market-leading best practices alongside an exhaustive analysis of what's working and why our reports allow readers to get a more in-depth and all-inclusive appreciation of what social business is and how it can work for them.

Report: Social Business | Social Customer Service, Care & Support.

Social media have driven a shift in the control of brand sentiment in favour of the consumer.
While the majority of businesses continue to offer no or very poor (social) customer service via their social media channels, others are responding very effectively to this increasing customer demand.

These companies are using social media to pro-actively seek out, engage with and manage customer opinion, while positioning themselves as both social businesses and customer-centric organisations.

Social Customer Service

Social Customer Service can be defined as Social Media/Business meets Customer Care, and has emerged as a result of organic online conversation taking place about business where the business did not have a communication or service strategy in place to manage in a positive way.

“Engaging in honest, direct conversations with customers and stakeholders is a part of who we are, who we always have been. The social web amplifies our opportunity to listen and learn and invest ourselves in two-way dialogue, enabling us to become a better company with more to offer the people who depend on us” - Michael Dell

In order to achieve a well ordered and managed online customer service experience there are many factors to take into account. A recent Forrester Report detailing the online Customer service vision for 2013 noted that:

“Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, and digital channels like chat and email. Channel usage rates are also quickly changing: we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. Expect customer service organizations to better align their channel strategy this year to support their company’s customers’ needs. Expect them to also work on guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time sensitivity of interactions.”

Ahain Group Report on Social Customer Service

This Ahain Group Report on Social Customer Service details the components of Social Customer Service across the digital spectrum providing best practice studies and key insights into Soc

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Social Customer Service, Care and Support, Digital Economy Report

  1. 1. Ahain Group Social Business Research, Analysis & Insight Look Who’s Listening SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE AND SUPPORT Industry Report September 2013 Created by: Eileen McCabe Niall Devitt Alan Boyd © Ahain Group 2013 All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Table of Contents Executive Summary 4 1. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE – THE BUSINESS CASE 6 2. THE FUNCTIONALITY OF SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE 9 - Define Business Goals and Objectives 10 3. EVALUATE 11 - Listen and Monitor Online 12 - Where are your customers? 16 - Cross Channel Resolution 16 - Social Platforms 19 - Community Forums 19 - Social Media Platforms 23 - Industry Blogs 30 - Influencers and Advocates 30 - Video 33 4. ENGAGE 38 - Resource and Scalability 39 • Resource Management 39 • Proactive Response 39 • Clear Guidelines 40 • Scalability in a Crisis 41 • Knowledge Base Application 42 • Interdepartmental Expertise 42 • Collaborative Tools 42 • Self-Service Information 43 • Efficiency of Response 43 • Response Targets 43 • Response Map 44 • Response Analysis 45 • Response on Facebook 46 • Response on Twitter (A Case in Point) 48 • Brand your Conversation 49 • Listen and Assess 49 • Understand the Message Content 49 • Conversational Style and Tone 50 • Personalise 50 © Ahain Group 2013 2
  3. 3. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 • Trust and Transparency 51 • Internal Strategy for Engagement 51 5. EXECUTE 53 - Execution through Evaluation 55 - Execution through Engagement 55 - Execution through Innovation 56 - Execution through Business Intelligence 59 6. THE USE OF MOBILE IN SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE 63 7. CRISIS MANAGEMENT 66 - Create a Strategic Crisis Management Policy 67 - Proactive Steps 67 - Steps to Action 68 • Act Quickly 68 • Localise the Issue – where is the crisis taking place? 68 • Assess the Resource Required 68 • Who Needs to Communicate? 69 • What is the Company Response? 69 • Steps to Resolution 69 • Measure the Impact of the Crisis 70 • Agree Prevention Steps using Learning gained from Situation 70 8. BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING (BPO) 73 - BPO Service Providers incorporate Social Customer Care 74 - The Functionality of Social BPO 75 • Social Media Monitoring 75 • Provide a Cross-Functional Team 75 • Knowledge Based Training 76 • Communication Style 76 • Online Engagement 77 • Execute Results 78 • Proactive Use of Analytics 78 • BPO Service Levels and Metrics 79 • Service Measures 79 • Quality Measures 80 • Effectiveness Measures 81 - The Benefits of using a BPO Social Customer Service Provider CONCLUSION © Ahain Group 2013 81 83 3
  4. 4. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Executive Summary The rapid escalation of what has been termed Social Customer Service is indicative of the increasing demand for a consumer to be provided with a communicative channel of engagement with business online. The opportunities now available for companies to track and respond to online conversation and mentions around their brand has denoted a shift in the control of brand sentiment in favour of the consumer. This shift can only be managed if a company proactively seeks out and manages opinion through the broad spectrum of the digital sphere. Once a digital presence has been established there is a potential to fail on execution of customer care and this in turn can lead to damage or dilution of the brand profile. With a broad spectrum of communication channels to actively administer; the inclusion of social customer service within an existing social business strategy is vital. Social Customer Service can be defined simply as social media/business meets customer care. It has emerged as a result of businesses and brands discovering the benefits to be derived from proactively managing customer service and support through social media channels. Image Source Trish Morris – Parature Inf 1 © Ahain Group 2013 4
  5. 5. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 In order to achieve a well ordered and managed online customer service experience there are many factors to take into account. A recent Forrester Report detailing the online Customer service vision for 2013 noted that:1 “Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, and digital channels like chat and email. Channel usage rates are also quickly changing: we’ve seen a 12% rise in web selfservice usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. Expect customer service organizations to better align their channel strategy this year to support their company’s customers’ needs. Expect them to also work on guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time sensitivity of interactions.” This Ahain Group report on Social Customer Service, Care & Support details the components of social customer service across the digital spectrum providing best practice studies and key insights into social care conduct and the management of brand reputation through crisis. 1 © Ahain Group 2013 5
  7. 7. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Social customer service is rapidly becoming a must rather than a choice for business as the conversation around brand takes place outside the control of the company. Millions of digital natives are using online platforms to voice opinion, both positive and negative, on sales and service. They also expect a level of engagement, either from peers or from the brand itself. Gartner Inc. predicts that: 2 “By 2014, organizations that refuse to communicate with customers by social media will face the same level of wrath from customers as those that ignore today's basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls.” The Ahain Group predicts that this is happening NOW as online users increasingly vent frustration at the lack of basic customer care administered by a company on social networks. There are many reasons why a business should develop a social customer service strategy for the online space. The most important ones are: • To develop loyalty between a brand and its customer • Protect the reputation and integrity of a brand • Convert the online consumer from non-customer to brand advocate by providing an enhanced customer experience • Manage a potential crisis situation effectively • That positive customer experience leads to recommendation which importantly leads to a natural increase in ROI. These important reasons are solidified by the statistical information provided by Visa 3 as to why great customer service matters: • 36% of businesses have won back a customer due to a positive support experience on social media • 71% of those who experienced positive social care are likely to recommend that brand to others 2 3 © Ahain Group 2013 7
  8. 8. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT • SEPTEMBER 2013 42% of customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. The statistics also reveal that 45% of people globally expect to receive customer support from social networks however 61% of users have expressed their view that brands do not effectively communicate with them on social media. This shows the impact that offering quality customer service can have. More emphasis needs to be placed on improving the customer experience across all channels; whether in-person, on the phone, online or using social channels. Managing and exceeding a customer expectation to provide a positive experience of the brand online will inevitably lead to an increase of a business’s ROI. TAKE-AWAYS Establish an online customer service presence in order to:  Enhance and protect brand reputation  Create cost efficiencies through reducing resource on traditional call centres  Extend brand reach through peer recommendation  Manage a crisis situation effectively. © Ahain Group 2013 8
  10. 10. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Social customer service is a measured and process driven social framework to enable companies to monitor and manage conversations around their brand and products in a productive and efficient manner. Define Business Goals and Objectives The Ahain Group, through extensive research in social business reporting, has seen an increasing trend whereby companies realise that social is becoming an integral part of the consumer experience yet have a lack of knowledge and understanding of the online space in order to utilise the channels well. Many companies establish a presence, yet do so without clear goals and objectives. A well-defined strategy is essential to success and the objectives clearly need to be agreed in order to implement that strategy and measure the results. At the heart of social customer service is the need to evaluate, engage and then execute according to the circumstance or sentiment. This involves: • Listening and Monitoring online mention and conversation around the brand • Responding to the conversation and engaging with the participant • Providing help and support based around the product and service and resolving online complaints • Proactively managing online opportunities and potential crisis before it is mentioned online • Gathering business intelligence on the brand in order to plan future strategy around product development and marketing campaigns. An important part of the social customer service strategy is to establish measurements for the social framework and use the results to increase efficiency and assess opportunities that ultimately benefit a business ROI. TAKE-AWAYS  An online presence without the benefit of a clear strategy that includes well defined goals and objectives can have a detrimental effect on the business brand reputation.  Key Performance Metrics must be established in order to measure results. © Ahain Group 2013 10
  12. 12. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Technology to facilitate the tracking of real-time conversation around a brand has been around for a while, yet has not been utilised to its full potential. The impact of an online reaction to a brand or product can be huge from both a positive and a negative perspective. The positivity generated around a brand can have a major impact on ROI as the virility of opinion is spread throughout industry by consumer peers. A report by New Voice Media 4 emphasises this point as they detail that: “Roughly a third of 16-24 year-olds will post online if they are unhappy with the service they are receiving. However, if they receive good service, 71% would recommend the company to others and 44% would use the company more frequently. “ These digital natives rely on peer recommendation around a product or service and the statistics show the importance of listening and tracking in order to take action and establish positive opinion around the brand. In fact, New Voice Media estimates from their research that, in the U.K. alone, business loses £12 billion every year due to poor customer service. This estimation details the impact that is prevalent from, among other reasons, a lack of awareness around brand sentiment and the motivation to address this. Listen and Monitor Online There are a wide range of software tools available to track conversation online. Some companies, like BT Retail, have developed their own in-house product which is customised to gather intelligence to support their goals and KPIs whilst Dell 5 created a social media listening command centre using Radian 6 technology to gather insight and respond to opinion on their brand. The important point is that these tools can integrate into an organisations ecosystem and CRM framework in order to be managed effectively. The tools are the support however; it is how their capabilities are used to execute on effective social customer care service that is the driving factor in the impact on brand sentiment. 4 5 © Ahain Group 2013 12
  13. 13. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: Dell Incorporates a Social Listening Culture After reaching a low point in customer satisfaction in 2005 in what was termed as ‘Dell Hell’ 6, Michael Dell personally became involved and recognised the value of 5F utilising the social web to initiate solutions to deal with the negative customer sentiment. As well as appointing a corporate blogger to engage openly and directly with key influencers within the industry, he also initiated a listening and responding program which incorporated customer service, support, community building and topic discussions with industry experts. With the volume of mentions hitting thousands a day the next step was the creation of a ‘Listening Czar’ which became the integration hub for all of Dell’s social media functions. A key area was the ability to filter conversational mentions and direct the topic to the relevant area of business. Dell recognised the challenges of embracing social customer service regarding it as 6 © Ahain Group 2013 13
  14. 14. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 a culture vs. adoption challenge and is continuously working on refining solutions to the challenges. Dell’s expansion into the launch of the social media listening command centre using Radian 6 technological capabilities has seen the conversation increase to levels of 25,000 mentions a day. Michael Dell explains: “Engaging in honest, direct conversations with customers and stakeholders is a part of who we are, who we always have been. The social web amplifies our opportunity to listen and learn and invest ourselves in two-way dialogue, enabling us to become a better company with more to offer the people who depend on us.” In order to manage the volume of conversation around the brand, Dell has ensured that employees from every aspect of the business have the correct training with the establishment of a Social Media University where employees train to become Social SME (subject matter experts) The qualified SME’s, which includes tech support, address on average 3000 posts a week in eleven languages. 7 They have a 98% resolution rate and 45% ranters-toravers conversion. They also have a staggering 44 Twitter Accounts to manage! Dell has used the social web to gather insight in many ways: IdeaStorm The creation of the IdeaStorm 8 site to provide a platform for interested parties to offer suggestions on improvement and product development has now shifted towards a community-based social platform where opinion and improvements still abound. Idea Partners, brought in to represent all functions of the Dell business, interact and filter the ‘idea’ content to the relevant department to ensure that they are considered seriously for implementation. 7 8 © Ahain Group 2013 14
  15. 15. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Using social functionality and the integration of gamification rewards contributors to the site with points with a select number of the top of the leader board earning ‘Dell Rock Star’ status, which means, as well as being recognised as influencers, they are also included in special activities provided by Dell. Storm Sessions included on the site are, in Dell’s words: “Hyper focused idea-generating sessions centred on a specific topic or theme and open for a limited time. You can also submit ideas for future sessions to the "Storm Sessions Topics" category.” These sessions are utilised by Dell to listen to detailed opinion on a specific business topic and this information can be used to gain insight for future business improvement. The results for IdeaStorm are impressive: • Over 19,852 ideas have been submitted • 742,336 votes have been cast • Over 98,000 comments based on the Dell business • Over 541 ideas have been implemented by Dell This way of listening to social online conversation about the brand has turned consumer ideas into a reality and benefitted Dell by way of development as a business. © Ahain Group 2013 15
  16. 16. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 The type of technological functionality required for monitoring online conversation will vary from business to business. Some businesses utilise Boolean functions and keyword search in a simplistic way, others harness natural language processing or find semantic technology a benefit to their business. These choices will be impacted by the business size, the resource available and the anticipated volumes of online mention. Where are your customers? The traditional elements of customer service communication methods have in the past relied on phone, email and face-to-face as interactive functions. This has rapidly changed to encompass the social elements of conversation that indirectly involve a brand without them being a part of the immediate conversation. We have assessed the functionality of monitoring these conversations, however in order to maximise efficiency it is important to evaluate where the majority of conversations are taking place in order to apply adequate resource to these areas. Best practice has shown that being proactive in steering the conversation to a chosen platform has resulted in cost efficiencies as the management and scalability of resource that has been previously been allocated to the traditional call centre functions, ultimately reduces. Cross Channel Resolution The digital consumer does not expect to have to seek out a company online to initiate conversation. They expect that company to find them and converse, no matter what online channel they use. This could be in the form of blogs, microblogs, community forums or general forums, social media or video. © Ahain Group 2013 16
  17. 17. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Traditional customer service channels such as phone and email are still of importance yet business needs to adapt to the constantly changing channel blur that is now a norm within the consumer industry. The process driven multi-channel approach must now merge into the customer orientated omni-channel experience. John Bowden, Senior Vice president of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable advised: 9 “We must offer a multi-channel strategy that allows customers to use the channel of their choice. Multi-channel is an operational view - how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they 9 © Ahain Group 2013 17
  18. 18. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 progress to a resolution. Making these complex “hand-offs” between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, Omni-channel is Multi-channel done right!” Whilst typically connected to the retail experience the omni-channel strategy is also a beneficial functionality when applied to customer service engagement. The holistic approach to a potentially technical quagmire aims to eliminate silos and instead, offer personable consistency to brand interaction. There are many ways to provide the Consumer with a seamless brand experience. Seamless Integration of Information – Channel crossing with a particular query can be a tedious experience for a customer if the integration of customer information is not carried across the channel change. Having to answer repetitious questions and explain the reason for communication over and over is frustrating for the customer and inefficient in both time and cost for the brand. Investing in a CRM system that is conducive to cross functional workflow can reap rewards in the long term in both cost efficiency and customer satisfaction. Manage the expectation for a customer in the cross channel experience – When a customer decides to mention a brand or directly interact with them through online social channels, they typically have a preconceived idea of how they would like their experience to be. A business needs to manage this preconception by clearly communicating the method of channel redirect and the differentiator in the channel experiences. A customer wishing to engage directly with an agent online should not be directed to a self-service video on a YouTube channel where there is little or no interaction. Alternatively a customer wishing to have a quick query answered in a few sentences should not be asked to ring a number and speak to an agent. Have clear guidelines on the framework of response and information with regards to each channel and communicate this so that the consumer is prepared for the type of experience he will receive. Consistency in Brand Representation – Although layout and functionality are different across social channels and as the access to these through mobile technology develops, the customer will still expect to experience the familiarity of the brand. © Ahain Group 2013 18
  19. 19. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Consistence in colour, layout and feel in as much as it can be across channels will provide that familiarity and strengthen the connection between the customer and the business. The main communicative platforms that encompass the social customer service element are based around the theme of communities. Whether it is consumer-led forums or Facebook and Twitter interaction, the benefit to a company is that the peer-to-peer conversation around the brand is based on genuine opinion, both positive and negative, from interested parties. The insights gained from the conversational content can be valuable as a company can monitor brand perception and assess and build on their strengths and developmental needs as they listen and act on consumer opinion. Brand these communities to enhance familiarity and loyalty to the business. Social Platforms Social platforms provide the consumer with a basis for sharing opinion and asking questions online. A business cannot dictate the chosen platform of use by a consumer, so it needs to be aware that the conversations around their brand can take place across the spectrum of social channels. This conversation generally happens in forums, social media platforms, online blogs and the rapidly popular medium of video. Community Forums Community Forums are an ideal opportunity for a brand to manage and respond to conversation in an area that is solely dedicated to opinion on their brand. The type of forum that a company creates can depend on their goals and objectives within their engagement strategy. The indicators of the types of forums include: • The reduction of moderation and interaction resources within the company • Managing cost efficiencies • Establishing the forum within the company website to increase the potential of traffic to other pages © Ahain Group 2013 19
  20. 20. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Companies that have established community forums have adapted the forum type to suit these indicators and, hence, there is diversity in the type of forum used. These include: • Internal community forums fully managed and moderated by company employees • Internal community forums managed by consumer advocates with little moderation from company employees • External forums in the form of a dedicated thread or channel-based within a popular social forum that the company can respond on but ultimately has no control over moderation. The most beneficial forum for a company is that of the internal community forum managed by consumer advocates with little moderation from company employees. There are many reasons for this: • Limited company resource needed to respond to all queries on the forum as the advocates are volunteering to do this themselves • Reduction in resource from traditional customer service methods of phone and email as the shift in interaction moves to the online forum • Increased opportunity to develop brand advocates within the forum through reward-based gamification methods and competitive leader board status • As the consumer gains ‘expert’ status from responding to other consumer queries, this expertise can be leveraged to gain insight and intelligence for research into brand improvement and product development. In this way a company can add value to the brand at minimum cost, but in order to sustain the reputation of the forum, they must base the conversational flow around transparency, integrity and trust. © Ahain Group 2013 20
  21. 21. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: Hewlett Packard Embrace the Community Forum with Innovative Gamification Hewlett Packard have utilised the forum space to create brand advocates and a self-service type community where a combination of employees and customers supply the solutions to product and technical queries related to their brand 10. The social care advocacy created by this type of forum has been done through generating an internal competitive strategy amongst the customers and employees through gamification-type competitions and a leader board. The problem solvers compete to answer the questions and are scored on the reaction of the questioner when they click on solution or kudos icons. These scores are then put towards the achievement of earning a HP Expert Badge that is displayed by their name on all posts in the forums. Added to this, HP awards the experts through prizes, which includes products; invitations to training and support meet-ups; and also the chance to be a guest at 10 © Ahain Group 2013 21
  22. 22. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 the Hewlett Packard Social Support Summit 11. Out of 150 HP Expert attendees at the recent summit in Florida, 26% were normal customers who had achieved HP Expert status on the support forums. With a small band of technical experts that oversee the forums, the other advocates are HP employees who have no formal responsibility for supplying solutions to the online queries. It is not unusual for these employees to answer queries outside of work time. To reward this enthusiasm and loyalty, the company sends a monthly email to thank the employee for their participation in the forums and includes their manager when sending, so that they are cognisant of the employees extra input. This gamification style of activity on the forum has generated a positive community environment which is based around the HP brand. This in turn has minimised the operational cost of supplying a customer service facility as, although phone support is still available, the facility provided through the forums serves to reduce typical service expenditure. Results 12: • Since inception in 2009, the forum has helped more than 40 million HP customers with issue resolution with over 500 million posts published. • HP has estimated that the forum saves the company $50 million per year in support costs. 11 12 © Ahain Group 2013 22
  23. 23. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Social Media Platforms The ever-growing opportunity to use social media as a customer service tool can be attributed to the huge number of consumers who interact with social media platforms to express opinion. Recent statistics show that there are:13 • Over one billion active monthly users on Facebook • 288 million active monthly users on Twitter • 359 million monthly active users on Google Plus • 200+ million users on LinkedIn. The importance of social customer service, when applied to social media platforms, is shown by the number of consumers who seek a resolution or interaction with a brand online. 14 • One in three users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the phone • 71% of 16 – 64 year olds turn to the internet when they have a problem with a product • 51% of social customer service users actively engage with brands several times a month with 9% engaging on a daily basis. • 71% of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that don’t get a response. These powerful statistics show that establishing and embracing an online brand presence via interaction is vital in the current digital age. Consumers are actively providing opinion and insight about a brand and the ability to listen and engage is a requirement for managing this in a public forum. Marketing and Customer Service Dilution The use of Social Media to evaluate online conversation is a powerful tool that is currently underutilised. 13 14 © Ahain Group 2013 23
  24. 24. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 The focus for many companies is the use of social media as a marketing tool rather than a customer service one. This is a common mistake in that it moves back to the point that the consumer, rather than the brand, drives the conversation online. Consequently the consumer will use a brands perceived marketing channel to post an opinion which then forces the brand’s marketing efforts to become blurred and diluted. The solution for this is for a brand to create multiple channels within the same platform that clearly identifies the use for the channel. With a clear guideline detailing the purpose of the account, the consumer knows exactly where to go, to find a response to their query. Undiluted dedicated channels that differentiate between sales, customer service and marketing can then be managed and monitored more effectively. Followers From a marketing perspective, great importance is placed on the number of followers and fans that a brand has accumulated. With social customer service this is not the case. The emphasis here is with the amount of online mentions that can be monitored and responded to. A consumer does not have to actively be a fan or follower to talk about the brand and this is why the implementation of a listening and monitoring tool is an important function in the customer service strategy. There are benefits to steering the conversation towards a particular online channel so that resources can be managed effectively. However, this is a company benefit rather than a consumer one and as we have mentioned, the consumer drives the online conversation and it is down to the business to seek it out. © Ahain Group 2013 24
  25. 25. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: AT & T on Facebook Jenn Fisher, Director of Digital and Youth Marketing at AT & T 15 wanted to reach out to the digital native away from the traditional focus group scenario and research showed that the main conversation around the AT & T brand from this age group was situated on Facebook. “It’s about us asking questions and getting feedback from fans. It’s really creating a one on one dialogue. We take that dialogue and we act on it.” They wanted to convey their brand message with strength, be active and listen. The focus AT & T put on their Facebook brand page was the time to respond to an issue. They set a target of either a response or acknowledgement in a fifteen minute period as they wanted to show that they respected the fans taking the time to post on their page. They also provide customer service interaction six days a week. This commitment has been welcomed by AT & T fans, so much so that a group called The Wolfpack 16set up their own AT & T fan page creating an instant 15 16 © Ahain Group 2013 25
  26. 26. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 community of like-minded enthusiasts and advocates who address issues on behalf of the company. AT & T are aware of the potential reach of their message on Facebook and estimate that their message could have an impression on up to 150 million Facebook users as posts are shared though friends of fans. Their aim is to utilise this to expand their market share and consumer base and to do this, they realise they have to provide an enhanced consumer experience. As a result they have, through Facebook, humanised the brand by ensuring that all posts are signed with the name of the person sending the message. They have more than twenty specialists dedicated to monitoring the Facebook page and other social media channels. They also have a social support centre app on the page which has a search facility and self-help information, including video. Results Through consumer engagement on Facebook, AT & T has achieved a conversion rate that is twice that of its other online and offline marketing campaigns. AT & T has been recently rated the highest for customer satisfaction in the wireless carriers industry by JD Power & Associates.17 17 © Ahain Group 2013 26
  27. 27. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: on Twitter 18 (@Zappos and 17F @Zappos_Service) the leading online clothes and footwear provider has long been known for its fun-loving brand, its flexibility and excellence of service. To extend the level of service, Zappos wanted to integrate communication through social channels and increase real time response to customer care and in doing so, strengthen customer loyalty. @Zappos launched a page on their website called Conversations 19, which used 18F Twitter’s Streaming API to look for Tweets that mentioned @Zappos or @Zappos_Service. These conversations were streamed in real time on their web site highlighting the response levels that Zappos dedicated to customer care online. From the successful use of the Twitter API, @Zappos then launched the TweetWall, which delivered the latest product finds and obsessions from the Twitter community. 18 19 © Ahain Group 2013 27
  28. 28. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 When users hovered over the image both the tweet and tweeter would be displayed. @Zappos also created an optimized version of the TweetWall for iPad. Results The syndication of Twitter onto the site combined with the integration of conversation around the product using TweetWall as well as the multi-account use to differentiate customer service from promotion has reinforced Zappos’s reputation for excellent customer service. It has also generated: • Over 40 Twitter conversations with customers a day on average • Over 600 product related tweets from customers in one month. A CASE IN POINT: Statoil use LinkedIn to position themselves as an innovator in oil and energy With operations in 36 countries and 21,000 employees worldwide, Statoil engaged LinkedIn as a social media partner 20 with the goal of: • Increasing brand awareness to leverage new territory expansion • Connecting to influencers and professionals within their industry • Engaging and creating open dialogue and conversation around issues affecting the industry • Positioning the brand as a leading innovator and thought leader. A LinkedIn group was formed that invited like-minded peers to create an open dialogue on technological innovation in the oil and gas industry, energy issues and collaboration on solving the climate challenge. Statoil say in its profile: “For us at Statoil innovation is in our DNA. That’s why we invite you in to discuss: How can we accommodate the world’s energy needs in a responsible manner, applying technology and innovative solutions? Your point of view might trigger good ideas with others – which, in turn, might lead to great solutions.” 20 © Ahain Group 2013 28
  29. 29. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 The group currently has over 33,000 members from the energy industry which includes academics, influencers and consultants and is firmly established as a forum for valuable industry debate. Initially, to grow the group, targeted LinkedIn email messages were used (InMails) by way of invite and once growth was established, the increase in numbers has grown organically as rich content is shared out to members’ connections. Results • Currently over 33,000 members • Over 40 new discussions and 70 comments a week • Early indicators of hot topics gathering business intelligence for the company • Brand reputation has been strengthened as Statoil is increasingly seen as a thought leader and trusted advisor within the industry. © Ahain Group 2013 29
  30. 30. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Industry Blogs Blogging has long been a staple part of business strategy in its capacity as a platform to create rich, engaging content. This content can be shared through social media channels and has the potential to go viral, driving traffic back to a business website. When used for the purpose of social customer service, blogs can be beneficial to a business in providing guides, insights and updates. This service content can also be integrated with other channels like video, where DIY videos are embedded into a blog to further illustrate subject topics. These guides can also be useful in minimising call centre costs as a service agent can direct a social customer service query to the blog, via a link, rather than directing the query to the traditional phone and email channels. From an evaluation perspective, blogs are also valuable tools to gather insight into the online perception of a brand. The growing popularity of the blogging community has given rise to the number of influencers and advocates. Not only are their opinions listened to and respected by businesses but more importantly a large number are potential brand advocates. It is important for a business to monitor this opinion and establish an interaction with influencers within their industry in order to manage and influence conversation around their brand. Influencers and Advocates Both influencers and advocates are important from both a marketing and customer service perspective in promoting the brand message. Influencers are people who have the ability to convey content and opinion quickly to a large number of fans and followers. They are highly respected within their field in either the form of celebrity status or as an expert in their chosen industry. Marketers utilise influencers to promote their product or brand, usually for a shortterm campaign. From a service perspective they can be an important channel in communicating information about immediate industry changes or in crisis situations. Negative opinion on a brand from an influencer can spread quickly to online followers so it is vital to monitor their opinion in order to take steps that may help in changing it. Advocates may not have the same influence yet they are the people who champion your brand and provide the peer-to-peer recommendation that is vital to business. © Ahain Group 2013 30
  31. 31. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 They will have influence within micro-communities for their knowledge and passion for a certain brand. And are a value-added alternative to customer service agents in their capacity as an ‘unofficial employee’ when consumers are seeking advice. Therefore it is important to monitor the online conversation of an advocate to moderate the information they are purveying whilst encouraging and rewarding their contribution to ensure their continued loyalty. A CASE IN POINT: FedEx use social media to create a positive customer experience FedEx has been working strategically to strengthen the brand through customer service on social media. Integrating channels, they have developed listening and monitoring strategies to track the number of online mentions, sentiments and mentions, providing response in a matter of minutes rather than hours. In an interview with Social Media Today 21 the Managing Director of Customer 20F Service in Western Region, Ginna Sauerwein detailed the importance of customer service online: Some of the key factors in their social care strategy include: • Collaboration and consistency in communication across all functions • Authenticity in communicative conversation whereby the communicators for FedEX are unscripted and use first names to create a personable dialogue • Consistency in service in that no one is prioritised unfairly due to status • Creativity in response to issues that arise. As a result of their customer service ethos FedEx has: Created brand advocates Nicole Snow, the owner of Darn Good Yarn 22 contacted FedEx online with a 21F question about supply chain start-ups, which they promptly helped with. The relationship developed with FedEx and the business, which resulted in Snow 21 © Ahain Group 2013 31
  32. 32. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 winning the first FedEx small business grant contest, creating an opportunity for Darn Good Yarn to expand. This has led to a lasting brand loyalty with FedEx both as a customer and as an advocate in promoting and praising the company to her peers. Developed relationships with key influencers One FedEx employee solved a problem for the noted For Dummies series author, Marsha Collier. Unaware of who she was, he enhanced her customer experience so much so that she requested that FedEx and their employee be featured in her book; The Ultimate Online Customer Service Guide. 23 The value in having a key industry influencer cite such a public recommendation is obvious. Not so, is that it works across all levels resulting in many more influencer endorsements. Managed productivity with efficiency A huge issue for customer care within a business is scalability of resource. FedEx encountered this problem when their tracking system failed to work for an entire day. This was compounded by the fact that the iPhone 4 was also launched that er day, which meant that key technology influencers and a huge volume of customers were expecting delivery but were unable to track it. Efficiency Solution Despite a policy of consistency in service regardless of status, FedEx decided to minimise the huge mention volume problem by prioritising responses in favour of key industry influencers when they assured them that packages would be delivered on time. This was in turn communicated by the influencers to all their fans and followers which resulted in inbound enquiries being reduced from critically unmanageable levels to normal rates within an hour. This in turn protected a potentially huge negative backlash against the brand and also maintained cost efficiency by reducing the resource levels that would have been required to cope with the volume of communication. This ability to pre-empt a crisis and communicate in a direct and timely manner with the consumer is a highlight of the reason why FedEx has embraced online social care within its organisation. 22 23 © Ahain Group 2013 32
  33. 33. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Video Currently cited as the #2 largest online search engine on the internet, the statistics for YouTube are huge and still growing. YouTube states they have: 24 • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US • YouTube is localized in 56 countries and across 61 languages • According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network • Millions of subscriptions happen each day, and the number of people subscribing has more than doubled since last year. As the popularity of YouTube as a search engine increases, so does the nature of video content that is uploaded to the channel. Gone are the days when the channel was used solely for music and entertainment. More and more companies are using the platform to display DIY or ‘how to’ videos as a step-by-step guide to resolve consumer queries around a product. More importantly, consumers are also using the channel as a way to express opinion about a brand and this rich, engaging and visual content can go viral in a very short period of time. 24 © Ahain Group 2013 33
  34. 34. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: A Missed Opportunity by United Airlines Although the impact of Dave Carroll and his Taylor Guitar took place in 2009 it was recently referenced by the senior director of analytics at, Tami Dalley, at the SES New York Session: Social Media Meets ROI. 25 24F The issue Dave Carroll had was with United Airlines over the damage done to his Taylor guitar in the luggage handling process. Yet it was the Taylor Guitar brand that listened and used the mention of their product to engage online with an innovative video that went viral. After spending a year trying to resolve the matter of the damage to the guitar with United Airlines, Carroll decided to voice his complaint by creating three songs about the situation and posting them on YouTube. When the first video 26 was released 25F featuring his song, United Breaks Guitars, his YouTube channel received 2 million views in the first two weeks. The message went viral with online peers posting their own stories of mishaps with the airline and negative sentiment for the brand rapidly escalated. At the time United Airlines did not have a cohesive strategy in place to track and respond to the online conversation around their brand; in fact they did not even have an official Facebook page to engage on. Impact Within two days of United Breaks Guitars release, the Times 27 attributed the loss of 26F almost $180 million dollars and a 10% decrease in shareholding to the incident. Whether this figure could be substantiated or not, the episode most certainly created damage for the brand as they chose not to monitor and manage the mentions online as they occurred. 25 26 27 © Ahain Group 2013 34
  35. 35. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Taylor Guitars seize opportunity from tracking online mentions Taylor Guitars were monitoring their brand mentions though and identified peaks in conversation, which within 24 hours, picked up on the fact that the damage was done to their make of guitar. Taylor Guitar Response President and Founder, Bob Taylor, decided to create his own YouTube video 28 to respond to Carroll and all other people with damaged instruments as a result of airline transport. In the video he sympathised and offered tips on handling instruments when flying. He also mentioned the Taylor repair shop thereby creating awareness around his company’s services. The video was optimised so that it appeared close to the already viral United Breaks Guitars song online. Results The outcome of the video was that from monitoring online mentions of their brand and responding with integrity and sincerity: 28 © Ahain Group 2013 35
  36. 36. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT • SEPTEMBER 2013 Taylor Guitars recorded a 25% increase in sales volume within a year (20082009) 29 • Publicity for the Taylor repair service was undoubtedly very cost-effective as their video was viewed by over 670,000 potential customers on YouTube • Increased loyalty with brand advocates and peer-to-peer recommendation across all social channels in the digital space. The outcome of the Carroll incident with United Airlines and Taylor Guitars is a prime example of the potential impact, both negative and positive, that can occur from monitoring, or lack of, mentions in the online space. It emphasises the fact that evaluation of brand sentiment and the strategy developed to manage it is of vital importance to a business. 29 © Ahain Group 2013 36
  37. 37. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 TAKE-AWAYS  Know the content and sentiment of conversation that is taking place online about your brand.  Monitoring tools can be integrated into organisational infrastructure providing the capability to align your business processes and resources.  Recognise the challenges your company faces through online evaluation, like Dell did and work on refining the solutions to these challenges.  Drive your business away from the process-driven multichannel structure to enhance the customer experience through the utilisation of the Omni-channel method.  Create self-service communities that drive opinion about the brand.  Reward community advocates through gamification initiatives.  Create multiple accounts that differentiate between service and promotional activity to prevent brand dilution.  Exceed expectation as AT & T did with their response times on Facebook achieving very successful results.  Amplify your social message through integration with your website. Zappos enhanced their customer service excellence through this method.  Create LinkedIn groups to add value to industry topics and enhance brand reputation such as Statoil.  Build relationships with both influencers and brand advocates to extend reach.  Create self-help video guides to reduce the volume of queries around a product or service as well as promote services. © Ahain Group 2013 37
  39. 39. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Engagement is the key to customer service. The ability to interact successfully with the consumer online is vital to protecting and enhancing the reputation of a brand. In order to engage successfully there are important factors to consider in ensuring a solid and reputable social customer service functionality. These are: • Resource and Scalability • Knowledge Base Application • Efficiency of Response • Brand your Conversation These internal strategies, if planned and executed well, will provide a solid framework for a business within the social customer service realm. Once the framework has been established as a fixture within the organisational process of a business, a company can begin an exploration into innovative forms of interaction, which will provide the opportunities for differentiation in the area of social customer service. Resource and Scalability Resource Management The management of resource for social customer service will be very much dependent on the data received through the evaluation phase. Through evaluation the volume of interaction can be assessed and resources can be allocated accordingly. As the interactions increase so should the resource in order for response times to be managed effectively. It is advisable to have a number of trained agents within the organisational structure that can divert from their normal duties to cope with sudden spikes in volume. Pro-active Response Traditional business operations have long-since conformed to established industry guidelines, including the business operating hours. Customers only had the option © Ahain Group 2013 39
  40. 40. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 of communicating or expressing an opinion about a product or service within these confines. This control has dissipated with the emergence of social business and the online space. A company now has no control over opening hours as the internet has the status of ‘always on’. Managing internal resource with this in mind can be a difficult thing; however, by setting clear guidelines for the consumer and managing expectations, this can be operated effectively. Clear Guidelines A business should create a definitive operational policy that is prominent across all channels. This should include: • The times, which a company will be available to respond on social channels • The time within which the customer should expect a response. The customer is still going to post an opinion or a query when it suits them; however they are going to understand that this query may not be addressed straight away. With these guidelines in place, then internal resources can be managed efficiently. If a company sets out a policy to respond within traditional working hours, they know they are going to need to provide the scalability of extra resource in the morning to manage the backlog of overnight queries quickly. This, so they can then operate under normal volume response targets within their chosen hours of operation. Ask AIB set out clear guidelines as to when they will be active on their Twitter channel 30. They also have set social media terms that detail: • • Contact details outside operating hours • 30 Operating hours The details of their customer service team for personalisation purposes. © Ahain Group 2013 40
  41. 41. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 They also direct the customer through a link to their social media policy where they clearly state: 31 “We welcome your comments/feedback and we'll do our best to respond to most postings. We may not be able to respond to your questions immediately and some responses may be limited in nature. Depending on the nature of your request it may be necessary for us to contact other areas of AIB. In cases like this we will endeavour to let you know that your request may take longer to deal with.” This openness and transparency in why some responses may take longer than others can serve to reduce consumer frustration online. Scalability in a Crisis A differentiator between traditional customer service and social is that if an interaction turns into a negative sentiment, it has the ability to go viral quickly. This can result in a massive increase in the volume of activity, which if not managed effectively can lead to chaos online. A company, dependent on its size and its maturity in social growth, must decide the best way to manage resource and scalability if this situation arises. The strategy for scalability in this area differs from business to business. A typical scalability structure might include: 31 © Ahain Group 2013 41
  42. 42. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 The social customer service team  traditional agents  ‘socially’ trained employees in other departments  virtual consultants (who are not full-time, yet have some expertise). The important point is to ensure that a plan for scalability and resource is included in a business crisis management plan and can be implemented with immediate effect. Knowledge Base Application When contacting a business through traditional customer service channels, such as the telephone, the first responder would typically assess the query, then connect the consumer to the expert associated with the query type. In social customer service the lines of expertise are blurred in that a consumer expects an expert response to their query in real time and in terms of operational resource, this can have a detrimental effect. Interdepartmental Expertise The segmentation of departmental structure such as the typical marketing, HR, sales and customer service channels is shifting towards a collaborative approach with regards to conveying expertise. Social Customer Service requires the knowledge base of all departments to work together to provide the right response to a consumer query and within this, assess the opportunity for cross-sell and up-sell as an integrative mechanism to a service led channel. Collaborative Tools There are a variety of CRM-based software tools available to support a customised offering for a business. A company must assess the capabilities of a CRM technology that suits their internal organisational expertise structure. The CRM technology will be able to connect information internally in order to obtain a real-time response for the consumer. © Ahain Group 2013 42
  43. 43. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Self-Service Information In the digital age a comprehensive company website will house a wealth of selfservice information, which a customer can access. This can be in the form of: • A FAQ section • A blog • A series of DIY videos • A consumer-driven community forum All these resources can minimise the resource of expertise needed in providing responses online. An agent will be able to respond with a link directing the consumer to the correct resource. Efficiency of Response Interaction within social channels is conducted in real-time meaning that consumers expect a quick response when they communicate with a brand online. A research survey conducted by Edison 32 indicates that: • 32% of respondents who use social channels for service queries expect to see a response within 30 minutes • 42% feel they should receive a response within 1 hour • 57% of social media users also expected responses within these times regardless of whether it was a working day or not. Whilst the time-to-respond metric is rapidly increasing with regards to quicker response times, there is still significant room for improvement in the time it takes for a business to respond to a consumer. Response Targets Defined response targets should be set and incorporated into the social customer service strategy. As mentioned, clear guidelines have been established for the time frames in which your business has decided to interact online, now metrics should be set for the frequency of response. 32 © Ahain Group 2013 43
  44. 44. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 To define these metrics, a business should take into account the anticipated volume levels and the resource available and manage accordingly. The frequency of response will also be dependent on the nature of the business and the type of response required. This will include: First response resolution If a query can be resolved in a single response this will increase efficiency and enable an agent to manage a greater number of interactions. Response redirect If an interaction cannot be resolved with a first response then a business may need to estimate the scale of resource required in order to direct the customer to another communication channel. The query should always be acknowledged in the channel in which it is communicated and after providing a resolution off-channel, then the positive outcome should be communicated within the original platform. Companies need to assess the framework, strategy and resource required internally in order to manage this effectively. Companies that are effective in online customer service normally have separate metrics that define the response targets for acknowledging the communication and then a target for resolution. These times vary and guidelines of response should be made very clear to the consumer. Response Map Response Maps work well as a guide for agents when communicating through social channels. They form a guide that defines the nature of the conversation and how it should proceed both logistically and in method of response. This example from Altimeter 33 clearly defines the methodology according to query and customer type. Combine the response map with script templates with, which to frame an answer, to ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQ’S) and a business will have an established framework in place to aid consumer interaction – applying efficiency of resource and consistency of message. 33 © Ahain Group 2013 44
  45. 45. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Response Analysis An analysis of response times by Social Bakers 34 from companies using social care showed that there has been year-on-year growth on the number of queries responded to on social media and a reduction in the time taken to respond. The figures reveal that in Q2, 2012, for brands analysed by the company, indicated that only 30% of questions asked on social media sites received a reply. The findings for Q2, 2013 showed that the number of responses had increased to 62% denoting a year-on-year increase of 143%. These figures reveal that companies have to respond to the challenges posed by consumers as more and more utilise these channels to communicate with brands. In fact the analysis also shows that the number of questions posted on Facebook brand pages has increased by 85% over the same time frame. 34 © Ahain Group 2013 45
  46. 46. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Of the analysis, it was highlighted that the top Industries taking an active role in social care response were Airlines, Telecom and Finance with the Fashion industry showing the greatest response increase over the past year. Response on Facebook KLM topped the leader table in the Social Bakers ‘Socially Devoted’ 35 stakes regarding response times on Facebook. The Dutch airline company hit an average response rate of 97.21% and an average response time of 45 minutes. This was measured against an industry bench mark of 62% and 1153 minutes respectively. The level of response to service on social media changed for KLM in 2010 with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull and the realisation of the extent at which social media could be utilised in a crisis situation. 35 © Ahain Group 2013 46
  47. 47. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 As a result of analysing the volume of customer interactions via social media in this instance, the Airline formed a Social Media Hub that drew knowledge from all departmental backgrounds including communications, customer care, ticketing, marketing and operations. Using CRM tools from Salesforce and Radian 6, they gained insight from the cloudbased applications and monitored growing volumes of interaction with the specialised service agents created to handle the responses. The volumes increased so much that their response targets were not able to be achieved by just operating under normal working hours so KLM made the decision to maintain a 24/7 presence in social media. With fifty operationally-trained agents, they now handle over 2000 conversations in Dutch, English, Spanish, German and Japanese each week within their response targets of: • An answer within an hour • A resolution within 24 hours. This exemplary customer service also benefits KLM as they continue to find ways to make social media more profitable by utilising the channels to respond to customers. Their Online Reputation Manager, Jochem van Drimmelen states: 36 “Commerce is the more challenging component of our strategy. Few companies have successfully derived revenue from social media, but we aim to be among those that do. We can do that by working efficiently. For instance, if we answer one question publicly, we answer it for everyone with the same question. As a result, we get fewer calls to answer. Another return on investment is improved online sentiment and an increase in brand ambassadors. What’s more, we are equipped to sell tickets and measure all conversion to our website.” By setting targets and providing a response framework, KLM have been able to gather insight into ways of minimising resource thereby reducing cost whilst still maintaining high standards of social customer care. 36 83640 © Ahain Group 2013 47
  48. 48. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: Tesco response on Twitter Airlines as an industry, again, were leaders with regards to response rate and time on Twitter 37. The leading brand however was Tesco Customer Care with an average 36F response rate of 78.85% and a response time of 75 minutes against a benchmark of 448 minutes and a 35% response rate. Tesco deploys a growing 40-strong team of social customer service agents within their contact centre 38 to proactively connect to the 37F consumer and identify issues at an early stage. They have a service level of response time of 45 minutes. They manage their hours of contact by displaying it on their social media pages and at the commencement of communication each day, post a declaration that they are available to answer queries from that moment. They have a policy of responding as much as possible within the consumer’s channel of choice. This eliminates the need for cross-channel silos. They use Twitter Direct Messages for privacy and once an issue has closed, they go public again with a tweet to show that they have delivered on service. Tesco ensure that their social agents have a full and extensive knowledge of the company’s products and services. This minimises time to respond and adds real-time value to the reply. Tesco use a multi-contact centre model, which gives them the ability to access all areas of the company including store level. It also provides a ‘local’ aspect to service making it more personable to the customer. They also have a sense of humour! 37 38 © Ahain Group 2013 48
  49. 49. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Brand your Conversation To represent the brand through social channels, the social customer service team must have a clear insight into the brand and its message. Brands have chosen to market themselves in a certain way, whether that be solidly professional or cuttingedge and this should be portrayed in the online conversation. To do this a brand needs to educate agents on its vision, methods and persona. Once fully immersed in a brand’s ethos, an agent is then equipped to represent it in the right way. Listen and Assess The importance of listening and monitoring online conversation in order to garner brand sentiment online has already been mentioned in this report. What has not been mentioned is that it is also of vital importance to listen to an individual comment before deciding the best way to engage. The fact that a customer has chosen to communicate with a brand means that they feel strongly about their message. Whether that message is positive or negative it should be assimilated and acknowledged with a ‘thank you for the feedback’ or similar response. Understand the Message Content The variety of social channels out there can dictate the format of conversation. It can be difficult in some cases for a consumer to articulate their message in 140 characters or less, which can also add to the severity of tone in the conversation. Bearing this in mind, it follows that it can also be hard for a social customer service team to understand the inherent meaning of the message. If unsure, ask open-ended questions to establish the true meaning. This can be vital in that, if the message is serious, a flippant response that avoids the crux of the question will further frustrate the customer. Questions like “Can you tell me more?” Or “How can I help you exactly?” will show that the agent is interested in trying to solve a query. Once the meaning of an interaction has been established, the response should be clear and concise. The consumer should know exactly what the brand is going to do © Ahain Group 2013 49
  50. 50. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 in response to a query. This can be managed by taking the customer through the process steps and managing their expectations on the time it will take for resolution. Conversational Style and Tone The style of online communication differs from brand to brand as it reflects their individual brand culture. Given that the consumer drives opinion online it is important to combine the brand conversational style with the style of that of the consumer’s. Match Style and Tone to the Message. If a customer has a serious complaint then be respectful and match the tone of the complaint to show that it is being taken seriously. If the message shows a lack of technical understanding of the product or service, then it is imperative that the language used aligns to the consumer’s level of understanding. Don’t use internal acronyms when conversing with a consumer and NEVER patronise! Alternatively, if a customer is portraying light hearted humour and their message is positive, it can be beneficial to match the style of the conversation with respectful humour. This serves to personalise the brand and heighten engagement, which strengthens the brand/consumer relationship. Personalise Customers like to know who they are dealing with on a personal level rather than be presented with conversing with just a brand name. As Ask AIB has done above, detail who the Social Customer Care team are and include a name or initial in each response. This lets the customer know that: • An individual has taken ownership of their query • They are dealing with a person who is representing the brand, not the imposing profile of the brand itself. © Ahain Group 2013 50
  51. 51. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Trust and Transparency Building trust is a vital part of strengthening relationships and establishing loyalty with a brand. In order to take these steps a business must not shy away from negative feedback. • Acknowledge company failings and explain the resolution process clearly • Apologise if necessary • Explain the reasons why your brand has chosen to act in a certain way • Ask for open and honest feedback to ascertain ways to improve upon service These points provide an ethos that lends itself to proactive relationship building and will mark a brand that portrays integrity as strength. Internal Strategy for Engagement Comprehensive training in all aspects of engagement should be applied to social customer service agents in order for them to assimilate the interactive skills required for successful engagement. This should also include training in how to incorporate the brand profile and ethos into this service. For continuous improvement, a social customer service handbook should be provided so that it can be referred to as needed. The handbook should include: • The Company online goals and objectives • A basic outline of social media use • Guidelines for engagement • Example engagement scripts • Process guidelines for managing online conversation • Support resource, escalation and information contacts With these informative guidelines to refer to, a social customer service agent can apply this best practice to enhance the customer experience online © Ahain Group 2013 51
  52. 52. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 TAKE-AWAYS  Use evaluation data to assess the resource required for engagement purposes  Provide a framework for engagement activity to manage efficiencies and portray a consistent message  Communicate clear guidelines of engagement in order to successfully manage customer expectation  Integrate brand knowledge and expertise into the engagement framework  Create self-service resources to minimise time scale and resource capabilities  Define metrics and framework response using maps and content templates to achieve consistency  Understand the tone and message of customer communication and respond with respect  Create an internal social handbook for employee continuous learning resource  Operate within a framework of trust and integrity . © Ahain Group 2013 52
  54. 54. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Effective execution on social care can be determined in many ways. Whether it is that a company establishes guidelines and sticks to them or publically follows through on a promise; the importance of delivering through resolution is a valuable attribute in strengthening the integrity of a brand. With reference to the global breakdown of communication spend for companies 39, the figures show that the focus is on new customer acquisition rather than the retention of existing customers. The breakdown shows that the communications spend include: • $500 billion a year on marketing and advertising • $50 billion on CRM • $9 billion on customer service An Adobe report on The ROI from Marketing to Existing Online Customers 40indicates that in the US it takes five new customers to generate the same revenue per visit as it does with one repeat customer. And that this is even higher in Europe in that a business would need seven new customers for every one repeat customer. Despite this analysis, companies as shown in the communication spend breakdown, are not applying enough focus on the execution of a positive customer service experience to capitalise on repeat customer spend. Execution should be the norm for a company responding to mentions on the social stratosphere and how a business exceeds on execution is the differentiator that establishes consumer loyalty and brand advocate potential. To recap; the Ahain Group report has shown the need for a business to evaluate and engage in order to drive success within the social customer service sphere. The strategy that has developed from applying the functionality and methodology should have now become a comprehensive framework in which a business can operate successfully online. The embodiment of the execution phase consists of: • Execution through evaluation • Execution through engagement • Execution through innovation 39 40 © Ahain Group 2013 54
  55. 55. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT • SEPTEMBER 2013 Execution through business intelligence. Execution through Evaluation Evaluation through online monitoring of conversation around a brand has significant benefits for gauging online sentiment for the brand. We have looked at ways to implement the functionality of listening and the operational processes needed to manage this conversation successfully, however there are benefits beyond the day-to-day management of social customer service. These include: Analysing trends in sentiment around particular components of a product or service Over a period of time it is important to strategically analyse the content of the conversation that has been monitored online. By doing this a business can assess if there is a default in a product or service by ‘volume of mention’ on a particular aspect. In executing a resolution to the issue company wide, rather than resolving it as part of an individual complaint, a business will eliminate the volume of negative mentions around the specific fault, thereby minimising costs through the reduction of resource that has to be applied to address individual mentions. Analysing the need for self-service information online A strategic analysis of the duplication of queries being managed and responded to online can highlight the need for this information to be published so that it is easily accessible for the consumer to follow. A DIY video or blog embedded on a company website is an ideal way to minimise the volume of queries and the time to respond. As the agent can direct the consumer to the information via a link rather than explain a process multiple times in response to individual queries. Execution through Engagement The report has examined the importance of defining the level and type of response needed to uphold the established reputation of a brand. It is imperative though that the targets for first case resolution are consistently being reached. A business needs to have a public social customer service policy that dictates its vision, guidelines and customer service process as well as endeavour to provide transparency in: © Ahain Group 2013 55
  56. 56. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 • Following the process through with a customer • Publicising its performance rates with regards to customer service metrics. This shows that, even though a company may not fully succeed on achieving set targets, they are consistently looking at ways to improve on their service. In this way a business will be viewed with respect for the open and honest way it communicates, both the good and the bad. A company should seek to follow through on a conversation in order to build on the relationship that has developed through resolution of an issue. A proactive strategy of a follow-up message, to re-affirm that the resolution is satisfactory creates a personal, caring sentiment around the brand. And this gesture will undoubtedly spread amongst the receiver’s peers thereby amplifying the positive sentiment online. Execution through Innovation The findings of a recent Forrester survey that asked questions of 100 customer experience professionals found that 41: • Just under 50% said market differentiation was a part of their executive teams’ strategy for customer experience • 69% of respondents indicated that their companies employ dedicated personnel for customer experience innovation • 64% have dedicated time to innovation activities • 55% have dedicated innovation budgets. Many companies dedicate this resource to innovation without actually defining what it means to a customer. Huge budgets and time allocation is spent on new technology implementation and branding definition yet innovation, from the view of the customer service experience can be the execution of the unexpected in its simplest form. Hertz, from monitoring online mention in real-time used innovation in the form of an unexpected gesture that had minimum cost and time allocation yet was proven in its effectiveness. 41 © Ahain Group 2013 56
  57. 57. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: Hertz use Effective Innovation in its Simplest Form Hertz have a reputation for fully embracing the social world of customer service. In fact, in 2012, they won at the Travel + Leisure Social Media + Tourism Awards for Best Use of a Social Media Platform 42 The company’s ability to monitor, not just a direct mention of their own brand online but an ambiguous mention in a subject relating to another issue and then capitalise on it is a portrayal of exceeding on the execution of customer service. One such example is the one detailed in The Huffington Post 43 where Fox 5 New York’s On Air Tech Expert and the host of Fox Televisions Shelly Palmer Digital Living 44 had written a blog detailing his encounter with Californian tollbooths. Palmer was less than happy with the encounter and his written description via his blog soon went viral on the online social channels. Innovative Response Hertz picked up the story and the mention and even though the issue was not directly related to the company, exceeded expectation with a letter (detailed following…points for spotting the typo!). In sending the letter Hertz, in Palmer’s own words ‘literally struck gold:’ “If I was a loyal Hertz customer before this episode, you can imagine how I feel about Hertz now. I don't know Mr Thomas, I will never communicate with him, but Hertz literally struck gold. For setting up a listening post, paying attention to the Interweb, the Tweetisphere and Facebookistan plus $50 in coupons, it now has a true brand ambassador and a vocal advocate with a story to tell.” 42 43 44 © Ahain Group 2013 57
  58. 58. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Outcome The outcome of online listening and Hertz taking the time to post a letter has ensured that: • They have created an advocate of the brand. • The brand advocate is a key influencer in the digital realm and his recommendations will be listened to online. • The brand advocate has a presence on other media channels such as television and radio so can integrate the positive mention both online and offline. • They most definitely have a repeat customer as Palmer utilises the discount on his next car rental journey with the $50.00 dollar coupon! Although an example of exceeding expectation with positive results, the execution of customer service can be as simple as a speedy reply and the resolution of a minor issue. It is the accessibility and the willingness to interact that ultimately gives rise to a loyal and trusting relationship which in turn leads to advocacy of the brand. © Ahain Group 2013 58
  59. 59. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Execution through Business Intelligence The use of monitoring tools can not only monitor conversations online in order for a business to manage and respond to them, it can also gather business intelligence that can be used to: • Refresh campaigns • Redefine strategy • Track metrics • Provide valuable data for research and development purposes. The data gathered from competitor mentions can also be useful in providing a benchmark for a business against industry competition. A company should always be finding ways to improve all aspects of their business on all levels. Through analysing and executing on strategy in all areas of development a business can utilise data for a lead differentiator within their field. Customer insight is a necessity for business improvement. A busy agent dealing with queries and mentions on a daily basis is not going to have the time to be strategic and pick up on innovative ideas that can be found in an online conversation about a brand. This is why it is important to employ strategic insight from the intelligence data and use the brand experience as related by the consumer to look out for the commercial opportunities and ideas. BT Retail used strategic insight to implement a comprehensive social customer service strategy employing cost-effective measures with great results. © Ahain Group 2013 59
  60. 60. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A CASE IN POINT: BT Retail BT Retail 45 made comprehensive strategic changes to their organisational processes to incorporate social customer service into their strategy. Initiatives They created Debatescape, an internal monitoring tool to track brand mention across all online channels. The @BTCare team was created to manage the conversations and all existing telephone-based advisors were trained to work in the online space. As well as the traditional social channels, the team interacted on popular consumer forums such as A dedicated YouTube channel was set up to present guides and solutions for customers. Of critical value to the BT Care team was the creation of brand advocates from dissatisfied or apathetic customers by focusing on giving the best customer service possible. Twitter BT Care use Twitter to answer queries and minimise the call volumes in a crisis situation. Targets are to respond to queries throughout the day and send up to ten tweets an hour giving time to follow up with customers through the traditional channels such as email as well. The team provide proactive information in crisis situations to deflect spikes in call volumes. When the London Riots occurred, informative tweets reduced 999 waiting times from 41 seconds to 0 seconds. 45 © Ahain Group 2013 60
  61. 61. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Facebook The BT Facebook page integrates complaint response with light hearted conversation topics creating more detailed interaction than Twitter. Query response is mixed with references to promotional campaigns and consumers are encouraged to interact over time to build up long-term relationships. The BT ‘Get Help’ app on Facebook integrates with their self-help YouTube channel to provide guides on resolving consumer issues. Self Help Community Forums BT also developed community forums to establish self-help in a gamification manner. Consumers are encouraged to answer queries on forums monitored by moderators who only intervene when posts contravene the terms of the forum. The responders gain super-user status and can earn online badges and are rewarded with privileges which can include testing new products and participating in focus groups. © Ahain Group 2013 61
  62. 62. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 Results of applying a comprehensive social care strategy • Twitter following increased 136% in 18 months • YouTube views increased by over 500% • Community registrations increased five-fold • An ROI analysis on the impact of the self-help forum on call deflection found that the cost savings in a four month period amounted to £122,000. TAKE-AWAYS  The importance of service investment is on par with marketing spend  Continually analyse and measure metrics and sentiment and amend strategy to refine results  Follow through on communication in order to strengthen relationship with the customer  Invest in innovation but be careful to overlook the simple, effective measures. Hertz stayed simple with successful results  A business perception of innovative methods may not match the consumers. it’s the consumer that matters  The impact of business intelligence data should be felt through all aspects of business improvement strategy  Measure the cost benefit of social customer service. BT Retail improved cost efficiencies with their self-help forum © Ahain Group 2013 62
  64. 64. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 It has been estimated that the number of active cell phones used globally will reach 7.3 billion by 2014. 46 Customer interaction and communication is fast becoming popular on mobile devices. As this industry advances through application development along with the growing use of video, businesses need to adapt to progress in line with the changing pace of this technology to ensure they remain fully connected with the digital consumer. Google, in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT, conducted research on smartphones in the US and found of the respondents that:47 • Smartphone penetration has risen to 44% of the population and is growing fast • 66% access the internet on their smartphones at least once a day • 80% visit social networks • 96% have researched a product or service on their device • 35% have made a purchase on their phone. Forrester 48 research has also indicated that Europe has strong growth in the use of mobile devices. They suggest that in 2013, 38% of mobile users in Western Europe will be using the internet ‘on the go’. In number terms this means that they predict that over 125 million Europeans will regularly access the web from their phone. Therefore the potential for social customer service within the mobile sphere is huge. Finding innovative ways to incorporate this fast growing platform is a challenge. However it is an exciting challenge as the possibilities that arise from utilising the mobile space are endless. Mobile is already being used by companies to push text-based alerts about products and services such as tracking and billing, and developments are already coming to light that will swiftly become a part of the social sphere. Currently a consumer can capture a customer experience through photo and video via their phone and transmit this mention with immediate effect online. Business needs to take heed of the growth in mobile communication technology and adapt quickly as, with all social channels, the consumer controls the interaction. 46 47 48 © Ahain Group 2013 64
  65. 65. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 TAKE-AWAYS  Keep up to date with emerging mobile technology  Be cognisant of the immediacy of consumer engagement using mobile ‘on the go’  Incorporate responsive design into consumer user interface  Examine your brand’s mobile interaction from the consumer perspective and find ways to enhance the experience © Ahain Group 2013 65
  67. 67. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A decade ago brand crisis or customer dissatisfaction with a brand was largely kept under wraps as the communication, more than likely, took place between an agent and the consumer. In this age negative mention is instant and can be spread quickly to a global audience thus creating a growing storm of negative publicity. Within the digital sphere, a crisis can be defined as a situation that sparks growing customer dissatisfaction which has the potential to go viral. This can occur as the result of an external situation such as a natural disaster, which the company is not responsible for but, which has an effect on their business. Alternatively it could be a mistake or defect that the business is directly responsible for and therefore the ire of the online audience becomes focused on them. Many Companies disregard the creation of a crisis management policy for their business as the general attitude is that it ‘will not happen to them.’ Inevitably, when a situation occurs that develops to a crisis level, the company is left without a framework to operate and manage the crisis effectively. The recommendation is that all companies that have contact with a public audience via any number of channels should have a proactive strategy in place to either prevent or manage a crisis situation as it occurs. Create a Strategic Crisis Management Policy A Crisis Management Policy will vary from business to business dependent on the nature of the company and the resources, technological and human, that are available. It is imperative though, that when dealing with a social customer service crisis, the plan involves the following steps to action: Pro Active Steps Strategy to monitor spike volumes in negative sentiment – Monitoring tools are valuable for indicating that a real-time crisis has surfaced and is growing rapidly. If a company is not aware of an issue arising then, before they know it, the crisis could have escalated to magnified proportions. It is vital that tools are in place so that a crisis can be identified and diverted before significant brand damage can occur. © Ahain Group 2013 67
  68. 68. SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE, CARE & SUPPORT SEPTEMBER 2013 A fully trained crisis management team – It is recommended that a business nominates a full team that has been trained in the actions and methods regarding operating within a crisis. The team should be available in emergency situations and should incorporate communication experts from a variety of channels so a comprehensive management of the crisis is covered. The team should also include business experts from all sectors of the company so that this expertise can be applied to whatever crisis occurs. A comprehensive crisis management plan – This plan should cover the actions and resources required to effectively manage a crisis situation. The social crisis plan can be incorporated into the traditional crisis plan so that all aspects of communication channels are effectively managed. Steps to Action As a potential crisis situation occurs: Act Quickly The sooner the policy is implemented; preventative measures can be taken to dilute the strength of dissatisfaction going viral. As with the United Airlines and Taylor Guitars example in this report, the impact of a delayed response can inflict damage to both a company’s brand reputation as well as their financial worth. Activate the crisis management team and evaluate the situation. Once the business has an idea of the severity of the situation they can decide on an action plan. Localise the Issue – where is the crisis taking place? From the data gathered it is important to analyse where the initial dissatisfaction occurred and attempt to communicate directly with the source. It is also important to ascertain where the majority of conversation is taking place. In this way resource can be allocated effectively to manage both volume and target potential influencers. Assess the Resource Required Once the data has been assimilated, a resource strategy can be implemented whereby a company can determine the resources required to deal effectively with the situation and where they are best placed for communication. It is not essential © Ahain Group 2013 68