Ten steps to social customer experience                success        A report from the frontline                March 2012
Ten steps to social customer experience success –a report from the frontline:IntroductionSocial has changed the way we exp...
Learning from the marketplaceSo what should brands be doing to take advantage of this opportunity? We see ten corebehaviou...
Ten steps to social customer experience success – the overview   1. Good social CRM starts with good traditional CRM:     ...
9. Common barriers that need to be overcome:       Common barriers are: the fear of being opened up to scrutiny, requireme...
if they are a well connected client, you don’t know who their contacts are, but you shouldassume this so you always give t...
5. On message, but not scripted“Usually, the (social CRM) team can answer any questions, there are contacts so they canche...
”We are looking for 80 pct of our customer surveys to come back with ‘very satisfied’ or‘extremely satisfied’ with the way...
Committing to social starts with a clear intention to change the relationship with thecustomer. It means being multi-dimen...
AcknowledgmentsWe would like to extend a big thank-you to the companies who kindly took part in thisresearch, and in parti...
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Ten steps to social customer experience success

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Research paper examining how companies are responding to the challenge of implementing social customer experience. Based on in-depth interviews and workshops with companies at different stages of social customer care adoption it provides ten practical steps to help you improve your own social customer care.

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Ten steps to social customer experience success

  1. 1. Ten steps to social customer experience success A report from the frontline March 2012
  2. 2. Ten steps to social customer experience success –a report from the frontline:IntroductionSocial has changed the way we experience brands. We no longer measure brands primarilyon messages, but on the interactions we have with them, and what others tell us about theinteractions they have with them.It is the growth in the use of social technologies that has enabled this more social behaviour– greater connectivity brings customers closer to brands, and enables amplification ofindividual customer experiences into the wider consciousness.This piece of research has been designed to discover how those on the frontline, customerservice teams, are responding to these changes, and finding opportunities to enhancecustomer experience.Headstream’s point of viewWithin the wider experience a customer has we believe it is the customer service team thatis now the single most important voice of the brand. These teams are dealing withcustomers at a point of heightened need, and when they have the highest expectations ofwhat the company should deliver.Companies that have successfully adopted social practices within their overall customerexperience understand that delivering the brand promise can be done extremely effectivelyon social platforms. Those that have ignored the opportunity to use social platforms toenhance the customer experience are ignoring a significant threat to their brand, andspurning an opportunity to get closer to customers.To quote Philip Sheldrake, author of ‘The Business of Influence’ –“The phrase ’perception is reality’ may have been a relevant axiom for 20th Centurymarketing and PR practices, but now reality is perception”. Page 2 of 10
  3. 3. Learning from the marketplaceSo what should brands be doing to take advantage of this opportunity? We see ten corebehaviours that allow brands to take advantage of social to enhance the overall customerexperience.Currently the majority of these are in the ‘high stakes’ area of customer service andcomplaint resolution. However, as the marketplace evolves, the benefits of proactiveoutreach to all customers via social, not just those that have a specific problem, becomesclear.To explore this in more detail Headstream conducted a series of interviews, and workshopswith three different companies that are in different marketplaces, and at different stageswhen it comes to social customer service adoption. These companies were selected for theirdiversity, and because they represent a range of B2C, B2B and B2B intermediated industries.They are:British Telecom’s social customer care team @BTCare that handles retail customersthroughout the UK,Skandia UK’s customer care team handling financial intermediaries (IFAs) accessingSkandia’s investment fund platform, and,Jobsite’s customer care team handling consumers (B2C), and recruitment agencies (B2B),using the Jobsite.co.uk job board.Our intention was not to judge how these companies are performing, but to take an in depthlook at the internal structures, behaviours, technologies and processes that either help orhinder them in delivering this social element of customer experience.We spoke to the teams on the frontline, and their managers, keen to get a true picture ofwhat it’s like to design and deliver customer experience at the real-time speed socialdemands. We also sought practical examples of how to embed social into the delivery ofcustomer experience, where you should start, and what you should measure.Finally, we were keen to discover how these teams now view themselves in relation to thebrand they represent. Has social made them more aware of their role as brand advocates,and influencers? Ultimately, is there an argument that the customer service teams shouldlead all social activity at a company? Page 3 of 10
  4. 4. Ten steps to social customer experience success – the overview 1. Good social CRM starts with good traditional CRM: Good social CRM is built on the foundation of successful traditional CRM. You can’t expect poor CRM to be improved by adding social; in fact it will make it worse. 2. Customers give more, so they expect more: Customers now expect equitable, real-time relationships with brands. The best brands are building a proactive community, not just reacting to service issues, and are starting, rather than simply joining conversations. 3. Empathy skills are crucial: In an era of visible consumption, advocacy and satisfaction, the best CRM operatives build rapport and understanding on an appropriate level. This empathy in a CRM representative may be more inherent than something that can be taught. Treat customers as you would like to be treated yourself. 4. Everyone is a brand manager: CRM teams see themselves as brand advocates – universally. CRM teams want ownership, or joint ownership with brand teams. 5. On message, but not scripted: Authentic communication requires high performing team members. Every contact is a branding opportunity (even if it’s a wrong number provide the very best impression you can!). Social CRM operatives need to have broad knowledge of a company’s products and services, and also an appreciation of the sensitive commercial/PR issues they need to manoeuvre around. 6. Real time engagement: Time with the customer, means time with your brand, so set up your CRM around their needs and timetables, not yours. Customer’s expectations have changed around speed of response, they are also more ‘savvy’ about their rights, and the effect their complaint could have in social spaces. 7. A problem shared is a problem halved: Enable self-help amongst the community through appropriate technology and community management. Companies are poor at using the customer feedback front-line CRM teams receive to improve product, brand or service. 8. The measurement challenge and opportunity: Traditional CRM metrics are internally focused, e.g. volume of enquiries handled by each representative in a defined time period. These measurements can be counter productive to creating good social CRM conditions. Instead social CRM requires a focus on measuring customer satisfaction or NPS (Net Promoter Score), with an emphasis on timely feedback. Page 4 of 10
  5. 5. 9. Common barriers that need to be overcome: Common barriers are: the fear of being opened up to scrutiny, requirement to service out of hours, requirement for improved co-ordination between departments, the challenge of integrating socially enabled technologies with legacy CRM systems, and the ability to listen to online conversation. 10. Proving the financial benefit: How can organisations move from measuring the cost of the service, to the value in the relationship? Changing the way long-term engagement with customers is valued within organisations is the core challenge.Ten steps to social customer experience success – the detailThe ten steps above have been distilled from the interviews and written contributions fromour partner companies in this research. Below are some of the key quotes they provided inreference to each point:1. Good social CRM starts with good traditional CRM“If you work for a brand that’s proud of itself, there is an element of pride in everything youdo.”“The basics of good customer service are still relevant.”2. Customers give more, so they expect more“You have to take on and own the specific query or complaint, you need to own and processit end to end. Social CRM team members need to be showing every action at every stagebecause it’s a public forum. It’s all about the relationship (with the customer), and everyonecan see how it’s going.”“If you turn a customer around they will never leave you. You’ve resolved and turned themthrough an awful situation. It makes the customer feel loved.”“At the moment, the SM customer service group is small – the challenge will be to grow butkeep consistency.”“If we can pick up general mentions, we will reach out and help – there is the opportunity todelight and surprise them by contacting direct. The customer instantly feels like someonewants to help them.”“Next it’s about building community, not using social just as a service portal. We want toretain people and engage them longer term, at the moment once the problems have beensolved they just tend to go away.”“People remember when they’ve had exceptional service. The impact you will have on thatindividual, they will tell other people – like a ripple effect. You should treat each customer as Page 5 of 10
  6. 6. if they are a well connected client, you don’t know who their contacts are, but you shouldassume this so you always give the best possible service.”“Expectations have changed, people are much more aware of what they are entitled to, andthe media are so damning when something goes wrong.”3. Empathy skills are crucial“You’ve got to put yourselves in the customer’s shoes and their environment. You have to begenuine and considered in any response, looking after your own agenda isn’t going to work,you have to think about the consumer. It’s nothing to do with social media, it’s all aboutattitude.”“Once you start a conversation in an open forum, you know other people are seeing it, thatrequires a lot more thinking. The tone has to be right, it’s a balance between being friendlyand professional. It’s a skill to be learnt, and it can take time to get advisers up to speed.”“It helps to have a certain sense of empathy, to be able to put yourself into their (thecustomer’s) shoes. Good listening skills, the ability to use the right language, and the abilityto stay calm.”“It’s important for an individual to understand the customer, to get a feeling of the customer.A person in customer service needs to be intuitive, and you have to be that type of person,I’m not sure if you can train people to be like that.”“Treat customers as you’d expect to be treated yourself.”4. Everyone is a brand manager“There can be tension between marketing, sales and customer service teams. It [socialcustomer service] does cross over with branding and product development, but it ultimatelyneeds to be lead by customer service teams.”“Customer service has more opportunity to develop the brand and what it means than anyother part of the business.”“Customers are our business, so we need to make sure they’re happy with the service weprovide. Everything we do impacts the customers perception of the brand.““Our brand stands out, it is the number one in the country at what it does. We have to live upto that in everything we do, and provide the best possible service to everyone, even if it’s awrong number!”“We are the first people the customer speaks to, so yes, we would be good people to leadsocial.”“If you are in customer service you are a brand advocate.” Page 6 of 10
  7. 7. 5. On message, but not scripted“Usually, the (social CRM) team can answer any questions, there are contacts so they cancheck specific issues. We have developed a matrix of contacts across company can go to witha quick and honest answer.”“It’s nice to follow complaint through to resolution, it’s better than working in a standardcustomer service team where you specialise in one narrow area. It gives a better overview ofcompany, and we’re trained in many lines of business. With social you get to see everything.”6. Real time engagement“Customers are more clued up, they expect much more and know much more about whathappens. People know more about how things work, they are more knowledgable.”“Yes it has changed. It’s all about response time. When I started, it could be over 24 hoursbefore responding, now its about 4 hours. Customers want a fast response and resolution.”“People’s expectations re timescales have changed, they expect to know the informationthere and then.”“Customers are a lot more savvy with how to deal with customer service departments. Withsocial media they are more likely to get their thoughts out there.”7. A problem shared is a problem halved“Only if a brand does something wrong, can you show how good your customer service is.Generally speaking, customers are satisfied, but only when they have an issue do theybecome a real brand advocate.”“ We take learning’s from customers to help improve products. Take feedback, log it on aspreadsheet and put it towards relevant department, and see if fixes can be made. E.g.website enhancements, recent complaint re lots of paperwork, so documents have beenposted online thru an extranet login”“Striving for customer satisfaction is key. If you can provide enough satisfaction then themedium is there now for word to be spread.”8. The measurement challenge and opportunity“We have a productivity sheet monitoring timings and processing, we don’t really measurecustomer satisfaction.”“There are numerous reports run by our manager. This looks at the number of enquiries dealtwith via email or phone. We don’t measure customer satisfaction”“You need to measure three things; individual advisor performance, team performance andpublic satisfaction.“ Page 7 of 10
  8. 8. ”We are looking for 80 pct of our customer surveys to come back with ‘very satisfied’ or‘extremely satisfied’ with the way the issue was handled. This is a high benchmark but it’swhat is required to get a positive Net Promoter Score.”“We’re service driven, not sales driven, its about reputation and retention.”9. Common barriers that need to be overcome“Insights don’t feed into CRM, it’s a very manual process. In order to truly invest, we will needhuge investment to integrate everything – traditional legacy CRM systems are hard tointegrate.”“To achieve change is about culture change. Business change has to be driven by the topdown. The MD and CEO have championed the cause, they love it but there’s more than justloving it – social needs incorporating into entire business strategy. Middle managerssometimes cause barriers, don’t understand or care for social media.”“Internal IT systems need to talk to each other and work better together. Integration into onesystem would make life easier for example you can’t yet search for a Twitter ID, doesn’t linkinto main database.”“It’s important to have key contacts in other parts of the company you can call upon and findout any information you need. I had barriers at the start to find relevant people to deal withthe query, but have overcome this. You need a mini social network internally too.”“We have a good intranet for knowledge sharing and informing different teams of latestdevelopments. This is especially helpful when answering questions on the phone for clients.”“The wider social sphere watching every conversation is something that is an opportunityand a threat and needs to be recognised and managed effectively.”10. Proving the financial benefit“The ultimate reward is to cut the cost of customer loyalty. True value is seeing angrycustomers at the point of leaving, and seeing them turn around. Social customers are proneto complaining, they are used to that culture of complaining.”It (ROI) is looked at with head count (cost of people) and type of query. We can map againstwhat the cost would have been if query dealt with by email or phone. It (social) is a lotcheaper than other channels.““We’re at the point where we HAVE to change across the complete business. We are beingforced by our customers.”Summary Page 8 of 10
  9. 9. Committing to social starts with a clear intention to change the relationship with thecustomer. It means being multi-dimensional and meeting customers’ needs faster. Itrequires both the embedding of processes that recognise the value of conversation, andthe enabling of people to act for the brand. The true measure of brand engagement is inthe exchange of trust and goodwill between two people. People helping people solveproblems. Page 9 of 10
  10. 10. AcknowledgmentsWe would like to extend a big thank-you to the companies who kindly took part in thisresearch, and in particular to the individuals who made their teams available to us forinterviewing and workshops. They are:Bian Salins, Head of Social Media Innovation, BT Customer ServiceAnne-Marie Rex, Customer Service Manager, JobsiteJeremy Mugridge, Head of Digital Marketing, SkandiaHeadstream team:Julius Duncan – julius.duncan@headstream.comElizabeth Flynn – elizabeth.flynn@headstream.comSamuel Hilary – samuel.hilary@headstream.comAbout HeadstreamHeadstream is a specialist social agency that helps organisations embed social into theirmarketing communications. We believe social creates significant opportunities to enhancebusiness results by bringing organisations closer to their customers and stakeholders.For more information about Headstream’s services please contact:Andrea Catt – andrea.catt@headstream.com+44 (0)23 8082 8520 Page 10 of 10

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