Customer service strategy social customer


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Organizations are exploiting social customer interaction channels for sales and marketing, but adoption of these channels for customer service is much slower. Info-Tech research indicates that customer-initiated service inquiries through social channels do not pay off. However, proactively monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities does help organizations achieve their service goals. IT should not be on the sidelines when it comes to enabling customer service: it must support the technologies involved (i.e. integration with CRM platforms). This storyboard, along with its accompanying tools, will help you:

•Understand how customer service fits into the broader CRM picture.
•Assess channel value and design an appropriate hybrid channel strategy.
•Integrate customer service channels with CRM software.
•Implement best practices to enable superior customer service.
Managers must recognize that social channels are here to stay, and define a strategy for using these channels to drive satisfaction and retention with their target customers.

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Customer service strategy social customer

  1. 1. Design a Customer Service Strategy to Serve the Social Customer Practical IT Research that Drives Measurable Results
  2. 2. Introduction Organizations are exploiting social customer interaction channels for sales and marketing, but adoption of these channels for customer service is much slower. Info-Tech research indicates that customer-initiated service inquiries through social channels do not pay off. However, proactively monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities does help organizations achieve their service goals. IT should not be on the sidelines when it comes to enabling customer service: it must support the technologies involved (i.e. integration with CRM platforms). Info-Tech Research Group This solution set will help you: This research is ideal for: IT leaders involved with enabling customer service through technology. IT professionals assigned to support contact center operations. Customer service professionals curious about new channels and technologies. This research is not about: Selecting CRM software: Select the Right CRM Software Social media for sales and marketing: Leverage Social Media for Enhanced Customer Interaction
  3. 3. Executive Summary <ul><li>IT leaders must understand all aspects of emerging social technologies, including the channel interaction strategies underlying their use. </li></ul><ul><li>Customer service is an integral part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Organizations must seek to provide superior service that increases customer satisfaction and retention. </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers and constituents are multi-channel. Only hybrid channel customer interaction strategies are effective over the lifetime of a customer relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>Adding social channels as points of interaction for customers to initiate new service inquiries does not have a positive impact on achieving customer service goals. </li></ul><ul><li>However, proactively monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities improves chances of achieving customer service goals. The service organization must partner with Marketing and PR to ensure social cloud monitoring systems can integrate directly with CRM platforms. </li></ul><ul><li>Integration of channels with one another and with CRM software is required to achieve customer service goals. Technology integration is a critical IT role in the implementation of hybrid channel customer interaction systems. IT also needs to help manage social channel security risks and support underlying infrastructure. </li></ul><ul><li>Regardless of service process complexity, most service failures can be attributed to a breakdown in following a handful of key customer service best practices (for example, establishing response times and creating a strategy for escalation and migration). </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group
  4. 4. <ul><li>Social media services have grown at a tremendous rate during the past five years. Consumers are flocking to services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. </li></ul><ul><li>Social media is ubiquitous: consumers can access social media services from their computers, smartphones, and video game consoles. This ease of access has further fuelled social media adoption. </li></ul><ul><li>Adoption of social media began with younger consumers, but sustained growth is taking place across a wide range of ages, from young to old. </li></ul><ul><li>Social media is displacing traditional e-channels, such as e-mail, as consumers’ preferred method of interacting with one another. </li></ul>Social media has experienced explosive growth; interacting with customers and prospects in the social cloud is a necessity Info-Tech Research Group Social media is being adopted at an incredible rate by a wide range of consumer demographics. Organizations must be in the same space as their customers and stakeholders. Bottom Line Social networking is now more popular than e-mail* Global time spent on social media is up 82% over last year* Last year, Tweets grew 1400% Facebook’s greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49* *Source: Nielson Online Every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube LinkedIn has users on every continent
  5. 5. Don’t assume social channel success in sales & marketing will automatically carry over into customer service <ul><li>Most organizations report to Info-Tech that they are not using social channels for customer service. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of respondents did not believe they could achieve their service goals through social channels. </li></ul><ul><li>The one exception was proactively monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Don’t take a leap of faith and blindly adopt social channels for customer service. First, assess new channels for service value. Adopt valuable channels into a hybrid-channel service strategy, not as independent silos. This research will help you do just that. Bottom Line
  6. 6. Proactively identify – and resolve – service issues in the social cloud for the greatest benefits <ul><li>Important conversations about organizations and their products are taking place in the social cloud. “Word of mouth” has become “word of crowd.” </li></ul><ul><li>Forward-thinking companies actively monitor the social cloud for customer service opportunities, to protect and improve their image . </li></ul>Proactive Resolution Complaint Monitoring Info-Tech Research Group Reactive service is customer-initiated. … keeping an eye on social conversations is definitely something that’s valuable for a wide variety of organizations. - IT Manager, Municipal Services “ ” Proactive service involves actively monitoring conversations taking place in the social cloud, identifying service issues, and responding to customers and the social cloud. Historically, customer service has been “reactive” (i.e. customer initiated) and solely between the customer and supplier. Social media forces proactive service interactions between customer, supplier, and the entire social cloud. Your dirty laundry just got aired. Bottom Line Customer receives service Customer initiates process
  7. 7. When the opportunity to exploit social channels for customer service does exist, several goals can be achieved Info-Tech Research Group Social media provides another channel for organizations to respond to customer inquiries, both directly initiated by customers and by proactively monitoring the social cloud. Improving Customer Satisfaction : Customers that receive more timely and personal service in the medium that they prefer will be more satisfied. Increasing Customer Retention. Using social media with customers builds barriers to exit since customers are engaged using a medium they prefer – something the organization needs to offer to remain competitive. Reducing Cost of Service: Organizations use social media to quickly and efficiently respond to customer service issues. The answer to the problem can be public, making it searchable by other customers that have the same request. 1 2 3
  8. 8. Assess Channel Value & Design a Hybrid Strategy Implement Customer Service Best Practices Customer Service and CRM Integrate Channels with CRM Software <ul><li>IT’s role is to educate the business about new interaction technologies and provide infrastructure support – especially integration with CRM platforms. </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing, sales, and customer service form the three pillars of CRM. Customer interaction channels serve all three domains, not just customer service. </li></ul><ul><li>A broad range of channels are available for customer service. Traditional channels include telephony and e-mail, while newer channels encompass social media and mobile applications. </li></ul><ul><li>Exploiting new channels does not require rebuilding customer interaction capabilities from scratch. It’s all about integration. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 1: Customer Service - A Key Ingredient of CRM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer service is an integral part of a holistic CRM strategy: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>social customer interaction is no exception. </li></ul></ul>1
  9. 9. To advise the business, IT must fully understand the underlying channel strategies behind new interaction technologies Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>IT must become technology and business experts on social computing technologies before they can explain them to the business. This requires IT leaders who support customer service technologies to have a solid understanding of customer interaction channels and how they should be used to enable service. </li></ul><ul><li>The business cannot initially be expected to realize the potential business applications or risks of new interaction technologies as they emerge. </li></ul><ul><li>The business must ask IT to explain the technologies first, before they can create business strategy around them. This requires IT to get ahead of the business and understand the business impact and risks of new technologies first . This has never been more true than with the emergence of social computing. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Customer service is an integral part of a holistic CRM strategy: leverage superior service to bring in repeat business <ul><li>The three domains of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) include marketing, sales, and customer service. </li></ul><ul><li>Providing after-sales customer service and support is critical for creating, maintaining, and growing customer relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Providing high-touch customer service is essential because it can cost more to procure a new customer than retain an existing one. </li></ul><ul><li>Businesses typically link sales & marketing strategy, but not service. This can be a fatal mistake: deficiencies in customer service strategy can negatively impact a customer’s intention to conduct repeat business with the firm. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Marketing Sales Customer Service Sales uses various channels to carry out actual transactions and execute order fulfillment. Customer service uses channels to receive and process after-sales service requests, and provide effective resolution of customer concerns. Marketing uses customer interaction channels to build product, brand, and company awareness in order to build intent-to-purchase. Social media makes integration of strategy across all three CRM domains even more important, since it makes customer strategy disconnections more apparent and broadcasts them to the world. Bottom Line
  11. 11. Build a customer service strategy on the foundations of the three domains of customer service <ul><li>How do you know what to support and where to start? </li></ul><ul><li>Here are some priorities that should guide your decisions around selecting domain and channels: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer segment value. Is the customer worth live assistance and/or field service? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discrete transaction value. Is the sales transaction prompting the service inquiry at large? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer segment capabilities. Can you expect the customer to have reasonable access to the service channel? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limitations of the channel to provide the necessary service. Is the channel able to convey the necessary information to resolve the issue? </li></ul></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Three Overlapping Domains of Customer Service: Self-service is typically the least expensive mode of customer service, but it can also be less effective than assisted and field service. Self-service, assisted service, and field service are not exclusive of each other. Effective customer service strategies require an ability to switch among them . A typical customer service resolution may require activities in all three domains. Bottom Line
  12. 12. Map customer interaction channels to the processes within the customer service domains <ul><li>Customer interaction channels can be leveraged to fulfill service objectives. </li></ul><ul><li>The trick is to design the right service channel mix by balancing customer segment attributes, channel capabilities and product/service attributes. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer segment goals and attributes vary. Not all customer segments will respond to all interaction channels equally. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Channel capabilities vary. Not all problems with products and services can be resolved through all channels equally. Channel capabilities can limit service resolution, whether customers prefer the channels or not. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creating an appropriate channel mix is vital for successful CRM. The organization must decide which channels to select for sales, marketing and customer service. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Traditional New Effective customer interaction strategies require that interaction channels be blended to achieve both customer segment and product/service goals. Treating interaction channels as silos increases cost-to-serve and makes the modern multi-channel consumer feel trapped and punished. Bottom Line Customer Support Forums Dedicated Mobile Application Telephony/Fax Desktop Sharing/Co-browsing Web-Self Service Live Web E-mail Web Chat Telephony Self-Service (IVR) Face-to-Face Blogging/Microblogging Social Networks Customer Interaction Channels
  13. 13. Design a channel mix strategy by starting with channels your customers are likely to use <ul><li>Consumers expect to receive customer service and support in the channels of their choice – when and where they want it. </li></ul><ul><li>New channels for customer interaction (i.e. social media and mobile apps) have raised consumer expectations around receiving high quality, on-demand service. </li></ul><ul><li>If the customer segments your organization serves prefer certain channels (i.e. social media), then you need to add these channels to the customer interaction strategy… or risk losing customers to competitors. </li></ul><ul><li>Locking customers into a limited selection of service channels (for example, only telephone or e-mail) will put firms at a competitive disadvantage to those who provide a more comprehensive array of channels for customer interaction. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Single Channel Traditionally, customers received service in a single interaction channel; there was a limited selection of channels for launching service requests. Today, organizations are breaking free of the limited channel approach and adopting a hybrid channel strategy to better service valuable customers. Multiple Channels Start with channels you expect your customers to use (this information can be gathered by mining customer analytics), then assess the channel’s capability to provide effective customer service. Bottom Line
  14. 14. Leverage previous knowledge of multi-channel customer interactions from Web 1.0 e-channel experiences <ul><li>Organizations already have experience with e-channels such as e-mail, chat, Web self-service, kiosks, bulletin boards, and discussion. </li></ul><ul><li>Web 1.0 forced the evolution of hybrid-channel customer interaction management. </li></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 social interaction models are new, but they do not radically change customer interaction frameworks. </li></ul><ul><li>Rather than rebuilding your interaction strategy around new channels (i.e. social and mobile), integrate them with your existing channel strategy. Do not fall for the hype as many organizations did during Web 1.0. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Web 1.0 Customer Interaction Framework Organizations have been through new e-channel integration once already, with Web 1.0. Despite the hype, adding newer social channels is not a radical departure from the first time around. Your organization has been here before. Bottom Line Customer Relationship Management Marketing Sales Service Conversations Information Customers Face to Face Phone E-mail Web Communication Channels
  15. 15. Integrate social channels alongside existing customer interaction channels: the social cloud itself is a new point of interaction <ul><li>Instead of thinking of customers as an island, think of them interacting with each other and with organizations in the social cloud . </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, the social cloud itself becomes a point of interaction , not just individual customers. </li></ul><ul><li>The social cloud is reachable with channels such as micro-blogging ( Twitter ) and social networks ( Facebook ). </li></ul><ul><li>Previous lessons learned from the integration of Web 1.0 e-channels should be leveraged as organizations add the social media channel into their overall customer interaction framework: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not design exclusively around a single channel. Design hybrid-channel solutions that may include social channels. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance customer segment goals and attributes, product and service goals and attributes, and channel capabilities. </li></ul></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Web 2.0 Customer Interaction Framework Don’t believe that social channel integration will require an entire rebuild of your CRM strategy. Social channels are just new interaction channels that need to be integrated – as you’ve done in the past with Web 1.0 e-channels. Bottom Line Customer Relationship Management Conversations & Information Social Cloud Marketing Sales Service Face to Face Phone E-mail Web Social Media Communication Channels
  16. 16. Service issues can be addressed by answering customer-initiated inquiries or proactively monitoring the social cloud <ul><li>Social media provides another channel for organizations to respond to customer inquiries, both directly initiated by customers and by proactively monitoring the social cloud. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Customers Social Media Customer Relationship Management Communication Channels Inquiries directly from customers Proactively monitoring social cloud Customer Service <ul><li>Interaction Goals: </li></ul><ul><li>Improving Customer Satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing Customer Retention </li></ul><ul><li>Reducing Cost of Service </li></ul>Integration is required, to achieve customer service goals. Customer-Initiated Inquiries Customers initiate the service inquiry through social channels (similar to how they might through telephony or a web portal). The customer logs onto the social networking service of their choice, and sends a message requesting help. For example, a customer on Twitter might write “@AcmeCorporation Experiencing problems with my product… need suggestions to fix it.” Proactive Monitoring of the Social Cloud The firm actively monitors the social cloud to identify customers experiencing service issues. This monitoring can be done manually or by using a social media monitoring platform (SMMP). The firm then responds to the customer, offering to provide in-channel or out-of-channel assistance.
  17. 17. Customers will interact via social media with or without you – be aware of the three main implications Info-Tech Research Group Brand image will be heavily influenced by the social cloud, whether the company participates or not. Three Main Implications: Frustrated customers vent service issues in the social cloud – they don’t just provide sales leads. IT plays a critical role in supporting the organizational use of the social cloud while minimizing risks. Social media is there whether we participate or not, therefore participation on our company’s part isn’t optional. - CIO, Manufacturing “ ” You can use the people who are passionate about your brand effectively, but at the same time, you have to be mindful that there will be others who will say things that you don’t want. What are you going to do? How are you going to deal with that? - Dr. Nicole Haggerty, Associate Professor, Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario “ ” You have to know what the business model is in order to dictate what you restrict and what you don’t, along with knowing what the risk[s] to IT and the infrastructure environment are. - Thomas Uyehara, IT Director, Independence First “ ” Although there are risks that need to be managed when participating, there are also risks to the organization if it chooses not to participate. But don’t leap blindly and add social channels to your service mix just because of sales and marketing successes. Bottom Line
  18. 18. Assess Channel Value & Design a Hybrid Strategy Implement Customer Service Best Practices Customer Service and CRM Integrate Channels with CRM Software <ul><li>There are a wide variety of channels for customer interaction management, ranging from traditional channels like face-to-face and telephony, to newer methods like social media and mobile applications. </li></ul><ul><li>Social channels may not be effective at customer-initiated (reactive) service inquiries, but proactive monitoring of the social cloud must be an integral part of a modern hybrid channel strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>A hybrid channel strategy allows firms to effectively resolve service inquiries while balancing customer satisfaction with cost-to-serve. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 2: Build a Hybrid Channel Strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maximizing customer service effectiveness requires the right mix of the right channels. </li></ul></ul>2
  19. 19. Face-to-face and telephony still form the backbone of customer channel strategy Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Face-to-face (F2F) customer service is the cornerstone of field service – and occasionally certain forms of assisted service (i.e. onsite service centers such as those seen in Apple stores). </li></ul><ul><li>Face-to-face service is one of the most effective service channels, but also one of the most resource-intensive. For example, a field technician can typically correct a problem onsite more effectively than a phone service call, but at the cost of that technician’s allocated wages. </li></ul><ul><li>F2F is most effective for servicing high-value customers and complex inquiries. </li></ul>Face-to-Face <ul><li>Telephony has long existed as an essential part of assisted service. Interactive voice response (IVR) also allows customers to execute basic self-service functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Telephony is real-time, allowing rapid response to customer service inquiries on first contact. </li></ul><ul><li>However, like any real-time channels, high volume results in service queues that can grow long and irritate customers. Telephony is more labor intensive, therefore relatively high cost when compared to self-service channels like Web portals. </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone is often used as a channel for escalation from less resource-intensive channels. </li></ul>Telephony/IVR Expensive and resource intensive, face-to-face and telephony (voice) interaction remain highly effective at resolving customer service inquiries, especially on first contact. But their role in a hybrid channel service strategy is as an escalation point from less effective channels, like self-service. Bottom Line
  20. 20. E-mail and web chat allow for robust customer service Info-Tech Research Group E-mail is an indispensible tool for assisted service; it allows for more robust demand management than telephony (which can result in lengthy and noticeable queues). Web-self service is an excellent starting channel for customer service, particularly for handling routine service inquiries. Bottom Line <ul><li>E-mail is a channel that gained widespread acceptance for customer service during Web 1.0. Customers can either e-mail the service department directly, or initiate the e-mail service process through a form on the web front-end. </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail can be shifted to off-peak service times, allowing for more efficient response (provided overall service window is reasonable, for example, one business day). </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail effectiveness varies – more complicated service inquiries sometimes take too long to resolve over e-mail, lengthening time to resolution and preventing first-contact resolution. A series of e-mail interactions can cost more than a phone call. </li></ul>E-Mail <ul><li>Web self-service (i.e. web portals) are a good starting point for most customer service. Portals have been particularly successful in banking and financial services; customer transactions can be processed at a fraction of the cost of other channels. </li></ul><ul><li>Web portals can also give customers access to libraries of self-service information, for example, knowledgebases and frequently asked questions (FAQs). </li></ul><ul><li>Web portals should feature easy-to-locate information for customers to move to assisted service channels (i.e. telephone/e-mail/social contact information). </li></ul>Web Self-Service
  21. 21. Live web chat and co-browsing merge the traditional concept of assisted services with web-enabled technology Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Co-browsing allows customer service agents and customers to browse a website together and can even allow agents to guide customers through a website. </li></ul><ul><li>When combined with some form of voice, co-browsing can be an effective website concierge tool. </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced co-browsing features can include application sharing or remote control. However, customer service agents should never be able to click buttons that add merchandise to shopping carts. </li></ul>Co-Browsing Live web interaction is particularly useful for sales and marketing to reduce transaction abandonment rates, shopping cart abandonment, or online enrollment process abandonment. Bottom Line <ul><li>Web chats gives customers on-demand access to live chat with customer service representatives. Certain portions of the chat can be automated to handle routine or basic inquiries. Live interaction can result in first contact resolution, but chat is not as effective as voice or face-to-face communication in solving complex issues. </li></ul><ul><li>Web chat has experienced low adoption due to an inability to satisfy expectations among early adopters, as well as the increase in service costs often experienced during rollout to all customers. Text chat has a poor capacity to convey information and has no capacity to detect or convey human factors (unlike telephony). </li></ul>Web Chat
  22. 22. Social and mobile channels: the new kids on the block Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Social networks like Facebook propagate both good and bad customer experiences at a geometric rate. Monitoring social conversations for service opportunities and quick resolution therein can improve customer satisfaction and attract new customers. </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand, don’t make customer service reps out of your PR and Marketing staff. Once a service opportunity is identified, it must be passed to the customer service department. Integration with CRM is required if the resolution is to be published back to the social network. </li></ul>Social <ul><li>Mobile applications provide consumers with the ability to tap into multiple features in order to resolve service issues. In some ways, mobile applications are less recognizable as a new channel in a traditional sense and serve more as a “launching point” for other channels. For example, they typically feature one-click call or e-mail support functionality, as well as access to web-portal like interfaces and knowledgebases. Never create a mobile service application without integrated escalation options. </li></ul><ul><li>More advanced mobile applications give consumers the ability to upload multimedia (i.e. photos and video) to a customer service representative to assist with an issue. Automotive insurance companies are among the pioneers in this respect. </li></ul><ul><li>Location data is only starting to be leveraged for customer service, but it holds great potential. For example, use a customer’s location to recommend the closest field service center or branch location. </li></ul>Mobile Info-Tech’s research indicates adoption of social channels and mobile applications for service is low. This is because integration with CRM is also low, and organizations will not realize the benefits when they use these channels as standalone silos. Bottom Line
  23. 23. Social & mobile customer service is still immature; you must integrate with CRM to be successful <ul><li>Adoption of social and mobile channels for customer service is low and CRM integration (linking channels to CRM software platforms) is even lower. </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction model matters and significantly impacts usage of both mobile and social channels for customer service. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t abandon the Web browser as a service channel for B2B. Mobile service is more likely to be supported for consumers and constituents, because they are inherently more mobile when requesting service than a business partner (who is often at a desk). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social channels are largely unused for servicing both B2B and B2C. But strong opportunities for B2B social service exist in professional networks, like LinkedIn. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Integration with CRM systems is abysmal. You can’t run a service organization or call center by throwing in more standalone channels that are not integrated with other CRM systems. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Successful integration requires assessing a channel’s ability to deliver value for your business model. More on customer service design best practices in Section 4. Bottom Line
  24. 24. Use Info-Tech’s Customer Service Channel Readiness Assessment to gauge how social and e-channels fit with your service strategy Info-Tech Research Group Info-Tech’s Customer Service Channel Readiness Assessment asks a series of diagnostic questions that will help pinpoint whether e-channels and social media are right for your organization. Some organizations are more likely to see value from these channels; this tool will help you determine whether you stand to benefit from newer customer interaction channels.
  25. 25. <ul><li>Service wins that are communicated to the cloud reach literally thousands (even millions) of people in a very short time, drastically increasing customer satisfaction . </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring the cloud allows the organization to learn about product defects in a more timely manner, update its service knowledgebase, and correct the defect faster. </li></ul><ul><li>Becoming aware of problems faster, following product release, and correcting them, reduces future service demand , thus decreasing average cost to serve per product release cycle. </li></ul>Monitor the social cloud to achieve customer service goals Info-Tech Research Group Never Always Proactively Monitoring Social Cloud to Identify CS Issues N = 49, Source: Info-Tech Research Group Proactively monitor the social cloud to identify customer service issues and significantly increase the positive impact on customer service goals. Monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities is the one way to integrate social channels into customer service that everyone agrees produces positive results. Bottom Line
  26. 26. Not all social channels are created equal: some are more useful than others for achieving certain goals Info-Tech Research Group Social channels can increase customer satisfaction & retention, but are less likely to reduce cost-to-serve. *Proven useful by Info-Tech statistical analysis carried out on real-world implementations. Domain Opportunity Consumer Social Networks (Facebook) Micro-Blogging (Twitter) Professional Social Networks (LinkedIn) Consumer Video Sharing Networks (YouTube) Marketing Building Positive Brand Image    Increasing Mind Share    Gaining Customer Insights     Sales Gaining Sales Insights    Increasing Revenue    Customer Acquisition    Service Customer Satisfaction     Increasing Customer Retention    Reducing Cost of Service       Proven Useful* Potentially Useful
  27. 27. Don’t rely on channel efficiency & channel migration to design successful customer service strategies <ul><li>In the beginning of customer service, a customer started in one channel and probably stayed in that same channel all the way to resolution. The design goal was to make each channel as efficient as possible . </li></ul><ul><li>As more channels became available (for example, e-mail and web self-service), focus turned to the idea that all customers should be migrated downward to the lowest-cost channel . This ignored the need to switch channels or escalate. </li></ul><ul><li>While channel efficiency and channel migration are components of channel economics, they result in service strategies that punish customers by preventing channel switching when required for resolution and ignoring the value of customer segments. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Migrate customers to lower cost channels Engagement Cost Focusing on channel efficiency and channel migration alone does not result in the most effective strategy for any type of customer engagement, service or otherwise. Channels have to be allowed to blend within a single customer engagement, resulting in hybrid channel strategies. Bottom Line Customer Engagement $$$ Live Customer Engagement $$ E-Mail Customer Engagement $ Self-Sevice Customer Engagement $$$$ Face-to-Face Make the channel more efficient to save $
  28. 28. Design for hybrid channel engagements & discard the notion of lowering cost-to-serve by trapping customers in one channel <ul><li>Hybrid service allows for escalation of service inquiries and channel switching when required. In the example to the right: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A customer experiences an error on her mobile phone. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She consults the carrier’s website. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She doesn’t find an answer, so she escalates to e-mail. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>She receives an e-mail back from customer service informing her that the firmware needs to be upgraded by visiting a branch sales location. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>After receiving the upgrade, the customer notices new features. She looks up the new features on the website and finds a list of new features and how to use them. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The real cost of service is a combination of the costs of service for each channel used, for the amount of time the channel is engaged. It is less than a 100% engagement in the most expensive channel, but more than a 100% engagement in the least expensive channel. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Channel Migration Engagement Cost Hybrid Channel Engagement X X In the real world, you cannot optimize service costs by using only one channel and squeezing as much efficiency gains out of it as possible. Likewise, you cannot choose to only support the lowest cost channel. You must blend all channels into a hybrid strategy for optimum performance and cost. Bottom Line Customer Engagement $$$ Live Customer Engagement $$ E-Mail Customer Engagement $ Self-Sevice Customer Engagement $$$$ Face-to-Face Channel Efficiency
  29. 29. For hybrid-channel service involving social channels, focus on resolving issues discovered as a result of proactive monitoring <ul><li>A typical engagement spawned by social monitoring: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing/PR uses a social media monitoring platform (SMPP) that searches for keywords relevant to the company, its brand and products, as well as competitor keywords. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A service complaint is discovered on Twitter, not addressed to any party in particular. Marketing/PR manually submits a service ticket, or ideally presses the “Submit to Customer Service” button if the SMMP is integrated with CRM. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A CSR picks up the inquiry from the normal routing queue. He finds a resolution to the problem and has a link to the service website. If the solution can be publicly shared without regard to privacy, then he returns the solution to the SMMP, which posts the solution as a “@mention” to the end user. If privacy is a concern, a @mention can tell the user the solution will be sent to them as a “Direct Message (DM).” </li></ul></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Solution seen by user, their followers, followers’ followers, the company’s followers, etc. Engagement Cost Proactively monitoring the social cloud is the most effective way to integrate social channels into a hybrid-channel service strategy. The social cloud can propagate both problems AND solutions at geometric rates , enabling your best service moments to spread rapidly too. Bottom Line Customer Engagement $$$ Call Center Customer Engagement $$ Social Monitoring Customer Engagement $ Social Media Service Customer Engagement $$$$ Face-to-Face Hybrid-Channel Engagement: A social example Documented in CRM system!
  30. 30. Case study: H&R Block proactively monitors and responds to customer service issues in the social cloud using Twitter Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Direct messages can only be seen by the sender and recipient. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate via DM sparingly , or when sensitive information is being shared, so the rest of the community can see how engaged and attentive your organization is. </li></ul><ul><li>Number of followers is an obvious metric but often is not the meter by which success on Twitter should be measured. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor mentions of your brand so you can address comments or concerns whenever people are tweeting about your organization, whether they are a follower or not. </li></ul>Notice path for channel switching or escalation is provided for when Twitter isn’t suitable.
  31. 31. Understand service channel economics to optimize cost of service and ROI <ul><li>So how much does a customer interaction cost? </li></ul><ul><li>Service organizations and call centers have been trying to answer this question for decades. </li></ul><ul><li>In a single channel world (where you only allow customers to use one channel form start to finish), the answer is fairly simple. You calculate service rate (cost per unit of time) and multiply by the total amount of time “the customer engages a representative.” (Note that the thinking was the customer engages the rep, not vice versa.) The math looks something like this: </li></ul><ul><li>Single Channel Engagement Cost = [Service Rate] x [Engagement Duration] </li></ul><ul><li>So if the service rate for a call center telephone interaction is $50/hour, a thirty minute engagement costs: </li></ul><ul><li>$50/hr x 0.5 hrs = $25 </li></ul><ul><li>The only option to reduce costs (short of reducing the product/service defects to begin with) was to make the channel more efficient: hire less skilled labor, offshore the call center, train agents better, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>When e-channels came along, the first theories were to migrate customers to the cheaper channels, thus reducing the service rate through channel migration, not by improving channel efficiency. But as we have illustrated, we live in a multi-channel world where customers can and will use multiple channels to resolve a single issue. So if web self-service costs $1 per hour and takes one hour, our engagement cost looks like this: </li></ul><ul><li>$1/hr x 1 hr = $1 </li></ul><ul><li>This looks great! $25 reduced to $1! But it’s not real-world. What if the customer doesn’t find an answer? What if they have to e-mail or call anyway? Modeling real-world, hybrid channel interactions is more complicated . </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Focusing only on improving channel efficiency and on migrating customers to lower cost channels does not optimize cost of service in a hybrid channel customer interaction world. Bottom Line
  32. 32. Optimize cost of service by modeling hybrid channel service resolution paths <ul><li>Calculating cost of service for a hybrid channel engagement is more complicated. You have to model the end-to-end service engagement to include what channels are used, how long they are used at each touch point, and how many touch points there are. So in our previous hybrid channel example of the mobile phone customer with the error, we have: a self-service engagement, an e-mail to customer service and a reply, a visit to a branch location, and a final web self-service engagement. </li></ul><ul><li>Our equation becomes complex: </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid Channel Engagement Cost = [R W1 x T W1 ] + [R E x T E ] + [R B x T B ] + [R W2 + T W2 ] </li></ul><ul><li>Where: R W1 = Rate for Web Interaction 1 </li></ul><ul><li>T W1 = Time for Web interaction 1 </li></ul><ul><li>R E = Rate for E-mail Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>T E = Time for E-mail Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>R B = Rate for Branch Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>T B = Time for Branch Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>R W2 = Rate for Web Interaction 2 </li></ul><ul><li>T W2 = Time for Web Interaction 2 </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Many research firms have published different figures for different channel interactions over the years, declaring that they know a phone call always costs X and an e-mail always costs Y. There is no such thing as fixed channel costs that can be applied to all industries and organizations. Each service organization must attempt to codify its own service rates by channel. However, it is possible to use this equation to model different service resolution paths, without knowing actual costs, to compare different paths with each other. You only need to understand the channel costs relative to each other (greater than, less than, equal). This way, service resolution paths designed for effective problem solving can each have costs of service compared to each other, in order to balance service costs with service effectiveness. This is not a simple business modeling task, but it is essential. Intentionally designing optimal hybrid channel paths for service resolution, for the most common and predictable service inquiries, enables organizations to execute effective customer service with the lowest cost of service. Bottom Line
  33. 33. Employ process re-engineering to optimize the most common hybrid-channel service resolution paths <ul><li>Examining our example resolution path, we find: </li></ul><ul><li>The path begins with inexpensive self-service, which is good. </li></ul><ul><li>Then escalation is required. This is a red flag for a common service inquiry. Escalation points should always be closely scrutinized. </li></ul><ul><li>Then a face-to-face interaction is required. This is another red flag. Why is F2F required? </li></ul><ul><li>Then we have another inexpensive self-service interaction that resulted from the resolution. </li></ul><ul><li>When a team of product specialists and service professionals examined this resolution path, they concluded: </li></ul><ul><li>If an error code exists, it should be in the service knowledgebase with instructions. The e-mail escalation should not be necessary. </li></ul><ul><li>If a firmware upgrade exists that solves the problem, the customer should be proactively notified, perhaps with a text message. Proactive notification will prevent most customers from even experiencing the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>If a data channel exists between the carrier and the device, why can’t firmware upgrades happen automatically over the air? The F2F visit to a branch location then becomes unnecessary. </li></ul><ul><li>If the update includes new features that a customer may want to learn about, a visit to the carrier website can still be recommended. </li></ul><ul><li>The end result was a one-time capital investment in infrastructure to enable automatic OTA firmware updates, completely eliminating this common inquiry. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group This is an example of how wireless carriers re-engineered one of their most expensive yet common service resolution paths, to make it cost effective and solve the customer problem. Cost reduction is not achieved just by making the way that customers interact more efficient. Reduce engagement costs by designing service resolution paths to be as effective as possible. Bottom Line Engagement Cost = [R W1 x T W1 ] + [R E x T E ] + [R B x T B ] + [R W2 + T W2 ]
  34. 34. The business must apply common design principles to construct hybrid-channel service strategies before engaging IT <ul><li>Offer self-service at all times, even to high-value clients. Self-service requires integration with service knowledgebases. </li></ul><ul><li>Always provide an option to switch from self-service. Self-service cannot solve every problem. Consider enabling: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click to chat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Submit an e-mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click to call </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find a nearby service center </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t confuse channel switching with escalation. Channel switching is required when channel limitations prevent resolution . Escalation is required when the service organization needs to commit more resources to resolution . </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t fall for the “Level 0” myth. Self-service is not Level 0, it is Level 1. Be careful not to fall into the false perception that switching from self-service to assisted service, without applying more resources, is escalation. It is not. Making a customer start over when switching channels is guaranteed to lower satisfaction . </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Escalation is necessary when a customer can no longer be adequately serviced at a given resource level. A common misconception is that escalation requires moving from one channel to another – it may not. In-channel escalation occurs when additional resources are allocated to the customer, but in the same channel. For example, if a customer is unable to receive adequate service from a tier-one phone agent, he or she may be transferred to a more specialized agent. Out-of-channel escalation occurs when the increase in committed resources is accompanied by a change in channel. This typically occurs when a customer switches from a predominantly self-service channel (i.e. web portal) to an assisted service channel (i.e. live chat) that can provide more specialized assistance. Key Definitions Designing service resolution workflows is required upfront before IT can assist with technology integration and advise the business concerning security and privacy risks. Bottom Line
  35. 35. Use Info-Tech’s Customer Service Maturity Assessment to gain a realistic assessment of the current customer service strategy Info-Tech Research Group Info-Tech’s tool, the Customer Service Maturity Assessment , asks a series of questions that will gauge the relative maturity of your organization’s customer service strategy from a business, channel, and technology standpoint. After scoring your maturity on these dimensions, the tool also provides feedback on your current strategy and recommendations for improvement.
  36. 36. Assess Channel Value & Design a Hybrid Strategy Implement Customer Service Best Practices Customer Service and CRM Integrate Channels with CRM Software <ul><li>IT has an important role to play in managing customer service technology. In particular, it needs to manage infrastructure, CRM points-of-integration, and security (especially around social media). But IT must also educate the business about new technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>Points of integration link customer interaction channels to CRM software. Integration with CRM software provides firms with a “360-degree” view of the customer, enabling them to provide more timely and accurate service, discover further sales and marketing opportunities, and provide feedback for product improvement. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 3: Integrate Channels with CRM Software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a 360-degree view of your customers by integrating all service channels with CRM. </li></ul></ul>3
  37. 37. <ul><li>Linking social media to existing customer relationship management solutions can improve information accuracy, reduce manual effort, and provide more in-depth customer insights. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations Info-Tech surveyed that integrated their solutions achieved more goals as a result. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Several major CRM vendors are now offering products that integrate with popular social networking services (either natively or by providing support for third-party add-ons). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, allows for native integration with Twitter and Facebook, while an add-on available for Oracle CRM gathers real-time information from publicly available LinkedIn profiles. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In companies that have not formally integrated social media with customer relationship management, IT should develop the business case in conjunction with the applicable “business-side” partner (marketing, sales, service, etc.). </li></ul>As with older channels, formally integrating social media and CRM technology pays big dividends in goal achievement 0 Info-Tech Research Group N=64 Service Goals Achieved (%) with Social Media Organizations that integrated their social media and CRM technology with software realized more of their goals (i.e. customer satisfaction) Software Integration No Integration +68%
  38. 38. Document the social media strategy and achievable opportunities in Info-Tech’s Business Plan Template <ul><li>Info-Tech advises: </li></ul><ul><li>Include 2-3 business stakeholders and one person from IT in the creation of the business plan. </li></ul><ul><li>Use this framework to quick-start your projects at the same time that the strategy is being developed. </li></ul><ul><li>Your social media strategy may be used across many customer interaction management-related projects. This document is intended to mature and grow with subsequent projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify both the potential gains as well as the risks of social media, and how you plan to mitigate them. </li></ul><ul><li>Use Info-Tech’s Social Media Business Plan Template to document business justifications for specific near-term customer interaction management-related projects. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group
  39. 39. Choose your source of social channels before planning for CRM integration <ul><li>The Social CRM market is divided into two major classes of providers: CRM vendors and pure-play social media monitoring platforms. </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the size of the service organization, CRM vendors may be further divided as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Those focusing on the service ticketing system as traditional service automation (Oracle, MS Dynamics,, RightNow Technologies, SugarCRM, Sage SalesLogix, Pivotal, Epiphany, Onyx, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Those focusing on the routing and queuing of both real-time and asynchronous customer interactions, such as Avaya, Interactive Intelligence, Genesys Labs, Aspect, Cisco. </li></ul></ul>Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Social channel aggregators collate and summarize information from several social media services (for example, Facebook and Twitter) and allow users to simultaneously update multiple social media accounts across multiple services. This can be a tremendous time-saver for monitoring the social cloud for customer service issues and responding in-channel to customer concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>Social channel managers are applications and vendors that provide services for managing social channels. For example, social channel managers can provide central points of administration and configuration for multiple social networking accounts for all of the organization’s approved social network users. </li></ul>The distinction between aggregation and management is blurring fast, as vendors are converging into multi-function social media monitoring platforms (SMMPs). Your choice of technical integration path depends on your current customer service technology architecture and points of integration for existing customer interaction technologies. Social channels should be integrated at the same technology points. Bottom Line
  40. 40. IT must help manage social channel infrastructure, CRM integration, and security <ul><li>IT’s primary role lies in providing necessary infrastructure and identifying and mitigating security concerns. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructure support is particularly important for businesses looking to link social media platforms with compatible CRM software solutions. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>While social media services can be indispensible tools, the services can propagate malware – requiring IT to manage security closely. Employees may inadvertently disclose privileged information over social networks. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>IT and the business must work together to set policies and access privileges for social media usage. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Archiving content, reporting, integration, user account management, and monitoring of sites may be joint responsibilities or held by either side. </li></ul><ul><li>The push for adoption usually comes from the business (for example, the Marketing or Communications department), and so defining the goals and posting actual content lies with the business side. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Either IT manages infrastructure and security, while social media goals and content are typically handled by the business side N=64 IT Business Larger organizations understand channel integration requirements well and may have a dedicated IT group in the service organization. But small organizations in particular need IT to help them understand the infrastructure and security implications of servicing customers through new channels. Bottom Line It’s like having a lawyer in the room… their job is to tell you about the risks and dangers. -Jim Sterne, Marketing Consultant, Target Marketing Inc. ” “
  41. 41. Social Media Monitoring Platforms with response capabilities should still be integrated with the larger CRM environment <ul><li>Social Media Monitoring Platforms : pure-play vendors of platforms that monitor the social cloud and aggregate social network traffic are now positioning themselves as “Social CRM” vendors, with built-in response capabilities. These vendors are not CRM vendors and only lead to treating social channels as an island, rather than as part of your company’s overall customer interaction capabilities. </li></ul>Social Cloud (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>New channels do not mean they stand alone and do not need to be integrated into the rest of the customer interaction architecture. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t fall into the “e-mail island trap” of the late 1990s, when many organizations failed to achieve their customer service goals by failing to integrate e-mail, telephony, web chat, and self-service (IVR and web) into a single service strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge SMMP vendors to demonstrate integration experience with both CRM vendors and multimedia queue vendors. </li></ul><ul><li>Manual integration, adding resolved social inquiries yourself to a CRM system after closure, cannot scale given the rapid increase in customer inquiries originating in the social cloud. </li></ul>CRM Social Media Monitoring Platform In-channel service response Integration With CRM Platform Keyword-based social monitoring Marketing and Sales 360-Degree Customer View SMMPs are a necessary single-channel evolutionary step, just like there used to be e-mail-0nly and web chat-only customer service options in the late 1990s. But they are temporary. SMMPs will eventually be subsumed into the larger CRM technology ecosystem. Bottom Line
  42. 42. Inbound Integration: feed the beast at the same point where it is used to being fed, like multimedia queues <ul><li>Organizations that have invested in multimedia queuing technologies and have created extensive business rules to govern routing of customer inquiries should integrate social media channels into these same queues. </li></ul><ul><li>Business rules must be reviewed for impact of social media, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills-based routing (SBR): Are all agents capable of interacting through social media? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn-around time/priority : Is a group of potentially thousands of customers/prospects observing the service interaction, e.g. on Facebook or Twitter? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy: Can you inform the agent if the inquiry is public or private at this point, to deal with appropriately, such as a Twitter mention (public) versus a Twitter direct message (private)? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most multimedia queue vendors are already adding support for direct social channel integration. If not, their generic “call listening” capabilities can be leveraged to listen for social interactions. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Multimedia Queues : Larger organizations are likely to have formal multimedia queuing technologies implemented in their call centers to route all types of interactions based on rules that define priority, complexity, required agent skills, product type, etc. Then the inquiry is routed to the desired service agent for resolution and closure in a traditional service ticketing system (CRM). Larger organizations with multimedia queuing technology in place should integrate social channels into the multimedia queue. But the queuing workflow must be reviewed to accommodate for the unique requirements of social media. Bottom Line
  43. 43. Inbound Integration (cont’d): feed the beast at the same point where it is used to being fed, like CRM Ticketing Systems <ul><li>CRM Ticketing Systems : Small organizations are unlikely to have formal multimedia queuing technologies implemented in their call centers to route all types of interactions based on rules that define priority, complexity, required agent skills, product type, etc. The inquiry is usually handed directly to the CRM ticketing system with no advance application of channel-specific or issue-specific business rules. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Organizations that integrate customer inquiries directly into their CRM software, such as phone calls, e-mail questions, and chat sessions, should do the same for social interactions. </li></ul><ul><li>Direct integration with CRM systems is not as flexible as integrating with multimedia queuing technologies. But it is preferred to manual processing of social media inquiries by parties outside the service organization, such as Marketing or PR. </li></ul><ul><li>Integration with CRM ensures capture of the inquiry into the larger 360-degree view of the customer and makes the interaction available for reporting and analysis by issue type, product, customer segment, and all other desired service analytics. </li></ul>In the absence of multimedia queues, social customer service inquiries should be integrated directly with CRM systems used to track and resolve inquiries. Manual resolution of social customer service inquiries prevents the organization from learning through reporting and analysis. Bottom Line
  44. 44. Outbound Integration: geometric propagation in social networks is friend and foe; bad news travels fast <ul><li>Most early social integration assumes that an inquiry originating from a social channel should be answered in the same channel. In fact, with SMMPs that are not integrated with CRM, this is the only option, since the platform does not have access to your existing customer interaction channels (e-mail, phone, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>The very nature of social media leads to both benefits and risks when responding within the same social channel (i.e. “in-band”): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Magic : If the social cloud is observing the service inquiry, this can provide organizations with an unparalleled opportunity to improve brand and image, because the resolution will spread at a geometric rate. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tragic : Bad customer service experiences can be relived not only by the customers, but also by each of the customer’s social friends, and their friends’ friends, their friends’ friends’ friends, and so on. </li></ul></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Social media allows bad experiences to be relived by thousands of people, in addition to the customer. Publicize your successes and keep your failures private. Bottom Line Example Scenarios In-Band Out-of-Band Twitter or Facebook request can be answered with a simple link to the website and no private information is shared. Twitter @ mention or Facebook post reply is a sufficient response. N/A Twitter or Facebook request requires collection of more private information. Respond publicly with request to call toll-free number, since private information is required. Resolve issue through private, non-social support channel. Monitoring found a disgruntled customer on a social site that is NOT sponsored by the company. Publicly respond on that social service with an offer to assist and a toll-free number. Resolve the issue through private, non-social support channels. Don’t risk battling an already disgruntled customer in public.
  45. 45. Outbound Integration (cont’d): ensure agents don’t create more problems than they solve Info-Tech Research Group <ul><li>Customer service agents must be trained to evaluate if an in-band response is appropriate or if switching channels is warranted. </li></ul><ul><li>Factors that may warrant channel switching include: customer privacy, regulatory requirements, issue complexity. </li></ul><ul><li>If channel switching is required, respond to the customer in public that you will be contacting them, then: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a private channel within the social service if it exists, such as a Facebook private message or a Twitter Direct Message. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the service does not support a private channel, provide the customer with the company’s toll-free customer service number or customer service contact website. </li></ul></ul>Bad customer experiences travel through a friend-of-a-friend (FoaF) network just as fast as good experiences. The network boundary might as well be infinite. In addition to customer satisfaction, there are several compelling business benefits to social customer service like reputation management . - IT Director, consumer products “ ” Customer service agents must be trained on the communication norms, etiquette, and limitations of social media. Customers will quickly sniff out a “poser,” who isn’t familiar with the technology. Bottom Line
  46. 46. Integrate the same knowledgebase across channels to avoid providing conflicting solutions to the same problem <ul><li>Don’t alienate customers by providing different answers for the same problem through different service channels and from different agents. There are usually two causes for this: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A lack of any service knowledgebases at all. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deploying a separate knowledegbase for each service channel. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Adopt some sort of common service knowledgebase, even a simple set of frequently asked questions or a basic Wiki. </li></ul><ul><li>Larger organizations must implement a service knowledgebase that provides solution information to all service channels, in a format appropriate for each channel. Implement specialized user interfaces for both end users and for service agents, customized to their individual needs. </li></ul><ul><li>For service requiring advanced diagnostics, implement agent scripts in the form of decision trees. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Advanced knowledgebases have content authoring tools, approval workflows, topical tagging, and taxonomy support. Maintaining a service knowledgebase requires product and service technical expertise, dedicated technical writers, and regular content review for accuracy and continued applicability. Don’t be fooled by claims of “self-learning” or “self-maintaining” knowledgebases. Without service knowledge management, you re-invent the wheel with each service inquiry and never learn from your mistakes. In the social era, customers help each other . Lacking service KM results in customers quickly becoming more knowledgeable about your products than you are. Bottom Line Common KB Self-Service (i.e. Live Web, IVR) Assisted Service (i.e. social channels, e-mail, phone) Field Service (i.e. face-to-face) All major service domains and channels should be supported by a common knowledgebase.
  47. 47. Assess Channel Value & Design a Hybrid Strategy Implement Customer Service Best Practices Customer Service and CRM Integrate Channels with CRM Software <ul><li>Service processes vary in complexity and can comprise thousands of discrete service activities. However, most service failures can be attributed to not adhering to a core group of customer service best practices. </li></ul><ul><li>Successful use of social service channels also depends on adherence to these high-level best practices. Don’t fall for the Chicken Little trap that social is totally different and everything you knew is now irrelevant. </li></ul><ul><li>Train your service representatives based on both channels and customer segment. </li></ul><ul><li>The social revolution will increase interaction volumes by orders of magnitude. Integrate or fail. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 4: Implement Best Practices for Customer Service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some channels may be new, but you can still make the same old customer service mistakes. </li></ul></ul>4
  48. 48. Adopt customer service best practices for both conventional and social interaction channels to succeed in a Web 2.0 world <ul><li>Essential best practices for customer service include: </li></ul><ul><li>Establish Response Times </li></ul><ul><li>Enable Escalation </li></ul><ul><li>Allow Channel Switching </li></ul><ul><li>Employ the Same Knowledgebase </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate Channel Nuances into Agent Training </li></ul><ul><li>Record all Service Inquiries </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group While there are hundreds of customer service process stages implemented in the modern service organization, failing to adhere to a handful of key best practices is most often the cause for failure. Bottom Line CRM Best Practices
  49. 49. Establish response times to set customer expectations and minimize customer dissatisfaction <ul><li>Customers are more likely to be satisfied with a service interaction if they know how long to expect to wait before receiving a response. Failure to provide average response times establishes a net negative satisfaction level before resolution is even attempted. </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations must adhere to the response times they communicate to customers. If you can’t meet your commitments, then don’t commit. </li></ul><ul><li>In large organizations, it is common to establish different response times for different customer segments, based on segment value, by prioritizing inquiries in the queue. </li></ul><ul><li>If an industry does have urgent types of inquiries, such as utility reports of natural gas leaks, customers should be reminded that interaction channels that do not provide immediate and live responses must NOT be used to report such events. Such industries must provide emergency contact options. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Leaving your customers on hold with no idea of average wait times is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Ensure customers aren’t left wondering when an e-mail response is coming by stating up front the response window (i.e. “one business day”). Start off with a neutral or positive customer experience by providing response times. Failure to communicate expected response times starts off the customer interaction with a negative experience, before resolution is even attempted. Bottom Line
  50. 50. Enable escalation of inquiries to prevent alienating customers by “dead-ending” them before resolution is achieved <ul><li>Early strategies designed to migrate customers to less expensive service channels, like e-mail or web self-service, failed to provide for situations where the customer cannot find a solution to the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, customers had to discover alternative interaction channels on their own, starting interaction through those channels having already experienced bad service. </li></ul><ul><li>Escalation is defined as when additional resources are required for the organization to resolve the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Always provide customers with an option to escalate their inquiry. This can be asynchronous, such as escalating from self-service to e-mail, or real-time, such as offering chat or a phone callback. </li></ul><ul><li>Escalation does not have to be free. Based upon customer segment and/or transaction value, it may be acceptable to offer escalation for a fee. Software vendors frequently do this when offering escalation to low value consumer customers, while offering free escalation to high value business clients or business accounts that have paid for a specific support contract. </li></ul>Service Escalation Info-Tech Research Group More resources tapped: Product Specialists Live Self-Sevice Resolution via Escalation Failure to provide customers with service escalation options is a lose-lose proposition: the customer problem is unresolved and the organization will find it impossible to achieve high customer satisfaction. However, higher levels of service do not have to be free. Bottom Line
  51. 51. Allow channel switching to account for limitations of the channel and to accommodate customer channel affinity <ul><li>Sometimes it is necessary to switch from one service channel to another. As in the previous slide, escalation is one event which may require switching channels. But channel switching does not have to require escalation. </li></ul><ul><li>Other reasons to switch channels include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The channel may not be able to resolve the issue, once the service organization clearly understands the problem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer may prefer a different channel or ultimately prove not to have the needed skills to use that channel. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The channel may be public when privacy is required to resolve the issue. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resolution in an asynchronous channel, like e-mail, may require such a large number of interactions (e-mail back and forth) that switching to a real-time channel would save time and reduce costs. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When switching from one channel to another, it is important to integrate channels so that a “soft” handoff can occur, which transfers the relevant information collected so far. Failure to execute a soft hand-off between channels angers customers as they must start the process all over again. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Soft Hand-Off of Customer Information Escalation can cause channel switching. But switching channels does not mean you have to escalate the inquiry and add more resources, such as engaging product specialists. Hybrid channel service means customers can take advantage of multiple channels during a single service engagement. Don’t punish your customers by forcing them to remain in the same service channel or making them start over again if they switch channels. Bottom Line Live E-Mail Self-Sevice Face-to-Face
  52. 52. Incorporate channel nuances into agent training to ensure consistent customer experience across channels <ul><li>A key design question for service organizations is whether they should employ “universal” agents, capable of supporting all channels, or dedicate groups of agents to different channels and use skills-based routing (SBR) to get the right inquiry to the correct agent. </li></ul><ul><li>When a new set of interaction technologies evolves, such as social interaction channels, existing service agents are challenged to learn how to provide service through these new channels. They don’t bring the skill to the workplace until the technology is embedded into the general culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Social interaction technologies are being adopted by the average person at far greater rates than previous Web 1.0 technologies were adopted, like e-mail and Web browsers. However, Info-Tech clients are still reporting that service agents are often not capable of using newer social channels without specialized training. </li></ul><ul><li>When first employing social channels for service, consider assigning inquiries from social channels to younger agents who may be completely comfortable with the technologies, provided that all other required skills are also present. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Agent training – particularly on technology – is essential for having a smooth-running customer service organization. Our agents are ill-prepared to serve customers through social channels because they have not been trained and have little experience. - IT Manager, professional services firm “ ” Don’t hand your agents loaded guns. Ensure agents are fully trained on the use of all interaction channels they will be supporting. Bottom Line Agents should be trained on the firm’s products, its customers, the channels it uses, and customer service technology (i.e. CRM).
  53. 53. Record all service inquiries to reuse previous resolutions and enable feedback into sales and marketing processes <ul><li>Recording service inquiries in a central repository, regardless of service channel used, enables: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identification of product defects. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Viewing a customer resolution history in the event the customer experiences the same problems again. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis by marketing for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notification to sales account managers of issues that could impact further customer purchases or renewals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis by the service organization to measure operational efficiency. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>While recording service inquiries in a central repository sounds obvious, many organizations still do not do so. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group Level of CRM Integration among Respondents Using Multiple Service Channels, By Channel Average Integration Level < 50% Info-Tech’s research indicates that most organizations are still not sufficiently integrating interaction channels with their CRM systems. Social media will ultimately increase customer interaction volumes by one or two orders of magnitude. Integrate or fail . Bottom Line
  54. 54. Conclusion and Recommendations <ul><li>Using social channels for sales and marketing has been proven beneficial. However, social media integration with service is producing mixed results. </li></ul><ul><li>Customer-initiated service requests over social media are of dubious value, but proactively monitoring the social cloud for service opportunities is highly advisable for most organizations (particularly those in a B2C environment). Proactive social monitoring is further strengthened by integrating social channels with CRM software. </li></ul><ul><li>Self-service, assisted service, and field service are not exclusive of each other. Effective customer service strategies require being able to switch among them . A typical customer service resolution may require activities in all three domains. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t believe that social channel integration will require an entire rebuild of your CRM strategy. Social channels are just new interaction channels that need to be integrated – as you’ve done in the past with Web 1.0 e-channels. </li></ul><ul><li>Proactively monitoring the social cloud is the most effective way to integrate social channels into a hybrid-channel service strategy. The social cloud can propagate both problems AND solutions at geometric rates , enabling your best service moments to spread rapidly too. </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group
  55. 55. Conclusion and Recommendations (Cont’d) <ul><li>Start with a neutral or positive customer experience by providing response times. Failure to communicate expected response times begins the customer interaction with a negative experience, before resolution is even attempted. </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to provide customers with service escalation options is a lose-lose proposition: the customer problem is unresolved and the organization will find it impossible to achieve high customer satisfaction. But higher levels of service do not have to be free. </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid channel service means customers can take advantage of multiple channels during a single service engagement. Don’t punish your customers by forcing them to remain in the same service channel or making them start over again if they switch channels. </li></ul><ul><li>Without service knowledge management, you re-invent the wheel with each service inquiry and never learn from your mistakes. In the social era, customers help each other . Lacking service knowledge management results in customers quickly becoming more knowledgeable about your products than you are. </li></ul><ul><li>Info-Tech’s research indicates that most organizations are still not sufficiently integrating interaction channels with their CRM systems. Social media will ultimately increase customer interaction volumes by one or two orders of magnitude. Integrate or fail . </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group
  56. 56. Related Research <ul><li>Leverage Social Media for Enhanced Customer Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Select the Right CRM Software </li></ul><ul><li>Build an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Select the Right Collaboration Platform </li></ul>Info-Tech Research Group
  57. 57. Appendix A: Survey Results
  58. 58. Info-Tech Research Group
  59. 59. Info-Tech Research Group
  60. 60. Info-Tech Research Group
  61. 61. Info-Tech Research Group
  62. 62. Info-Tech Research Group