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Choosing the Perfect Customer Support App

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Four easy steps to help companies find their social help desk

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Choosing the Perfect Customer Support App

  1. 1. The Community Manager’s Guide for Social Customer Support Many businesses are using social media for customer engagement and crisis management. This has led to the rise of a new job — the community manager. Community managers are often the online (and more increasingly offline) faces of their companies. Most importantly, they help foster the relationships and connections with customers. This guide will help others in your organizations understand what community managers actually do, and gives community managers a trusted guide to their day-to-day jobs. Alex Hisaka is a Content Marketer at Desk.com. Follow her on Twitter at @alexhisaka Table of Contents: 1. The Evolution of the Community Manager 2. Creating a Social Customer Service Strategy 3. Prioritize: Manage Issues vs. Conversations 4. When to Engage and Not Engage With Customers 5. Collaborate: Take Customer Service to Your Whole Team After reading it, your business should: • Define responsibilities and set goals within your organization. • Define and implement a social customer service strategy. • Manage issues vs. conversations. • Judge when to engage and when not to with your customers. • Involve your entire company in customer service. As you read through this guide, take notes. Think about how you can use the ideas, concepts and strategies shared in these pages. We know you’ll find a lot to think about as you read. 
  2. 2. The Evolution of the Community Manager The lines dividing community managers and customer support agents can be blurry. Some businesses choose to distinctly separate the two roles. Others — often small and medium-sized businesses — pick someone in their organization who is social media savvy and have them wear a number of hats. They create strategies and implement the plans, listen to customers and gather feedback, and manage customer support and complaints on social media. Community management has become more than a role — it’s a discipline integrated across the company. Just what are the essential skills and requirements of a community manager? • Customer service skills were requested in 75% of job descriptions. According to Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, his study showed that 43% of community manager roles must interact with customers wherever they go. Additionally, they should have 2.5-3 years of experience in customer service. • Being in touch with customers and dialed in to what they want from your products or services. Connie Bensen, community manager of Dell, says successful community managers help lead an organization’s shift from one person doing all things social to social collaboration company wide. • Seamlessly work across all departments. Community managers know how to listen, and what to do after they listen. They know how to engage and build relationships, and if a customer need help, they know how to act fast and resolve problems. • Nurturing online communities • Demonstrating rapid response and company emphasis on quality customer care, transparency and authenticity to a large, public audience. • Utilizing social channels as a “canary in the mine” to spot issues, correct course and clarify messaging. • Reduce support costs; if it works — great. If it doesn’t, your investment was small. • Sharing tips and techniques. • Gathering exposure for your brand. • Monitoring and responding to customer conversations in real time. • Intervening quickly to protect reputation and improve customer experience during urgent or crisis situations. • Tracking the entire conversation about your brand. • Release product updates and other informative updates to reduce support costs. • Providing valuable and interesting content to attract new business and earn the trust of existing customers. As the community manager’s role evolves to become more strategic, community and customer service will work in tandem. Business will continue to change in our social world, so it’s important that community managers take on the responsibilities of engagement and crisis management. Though there’s no marked path to being a successful community manager, some common activities and abilities have made themselves clear: While many of these day-to-day tasks are achievable, it takes proper planning and resources. To avoid pitfalls, a thoughtful social customer-service strategy will support your marketing. It can also position people within your company as thought leaders, helping your organization influence those who regularly talk about issues of interest to them and you.
  3. 3. Creating a Social Customer Service Strategy Many businesses fail to realize the strategic opportunity of using service as a vehicle to grow and keep customers. Implementing a social customer service strategy isn’t easy; you’ll need to define responsibilities, set goals and analyze your teams workloads and processes. The core of any good social customer service strategy is conveying to customers they’ve been heard and you’re doing something about the issue. A combination of speed, accuracy and impact will lead to customer satisfaction, and open opportunities down the road. Define job roles and responsibilities: How do you manage expectations of service to your community? Define who is online and when. If there are hours, figure out how to handle issues during off hours. Open internal lines of communication: The more siloed an organization, the less people will understand how their role affects the company and customer. Plan to involve people from different departments to “touch” the customer. Set policies, procedures, and goals clearly informing employees of what is accepted and prohibited: This includes etiquette, engagement and response times on your social channels. Each customer issue should be treated as a “case” — and each case needs a status, a priority and an owner. Set up monitoring processes to track your company, competitors, and influences: Ensure your staff knows what reporting is expected and on what schedule. Identify hashtags your community uses. Subscribe to search terms for industry keywords and competitors. Know the customer: Identify your VIP customers and advocates, and find ways to deepen those relationships. Understand why customers are retained or lost. What key areas are you reporting on and how: On social, measure sentiment (compile complaints, compliments and suggestions), response time and number of customer issues resolved. Align your marketing efforts with your social customer service program: Share great content with your customers, be there to help them when they have an issue. 🎓 📞  🛇  📈 
  4. 4. Prioritize: Manage Issues vs. Conversations No matter how good your customer service plan is, nothing happens exactly the way it’s supposed to. Customers will judge your company for service failures, large and small, from bugs in your software to responses not answered within five minutes. But you can seize these opportunities — how you handle the situation is what counts. Monitor customer service issues as they emerge: • Use social channels as “listening posts” (create private lists on Twitter, save search terms for industry keywords, hashtags and company mentions). • When a customer reaches out for help, you should respond on the same channel quickly and transparently. Respond quickly and accurately: • Make a rule to keep response times under “X” minutes (one-fourth of customers who complain via social media expect a reply within an hour). • When someone has an issue, send an @mention or reply asking them how you can help. • If it’s a bigger issue, ask customers to contact you via phone or email so you can better understand what happened and solve the problem in a reasonable amount of time. Handle issues as they arise to prevent a potential crisis: • If there’s a server error, post regular updates on the status page of the company’s website. • Let people know you are working on the problem. • As you figure things out, share the results. • If a customer is complaining online, community teams should be aware of who they are and why they’re upset.
  5. 5. Be truthful and transparent: • Figure out who the the customer is and why he or she is upset (check their Twitter or Facebook bio for their name and company) • Reach out to the person to gain a greater insight into their concerns. • When you get a complaint, don’t avoid handling it. When you do wrong, apologize and make it right. Make follow-ups systematic: • Always follow up — on social channels for smaller issues, through phone calls and emails for larger ones — to make sure the disgruntled got what they needed. • Welcome advice and constructive criticism and collect it for reporting. Sometimes customers complain because they care. They want something to work and are disappointed that it didn’t. It’s your responsibility to fix the problem. How you communicate with your customers, how you accept responsibility, and how you make things right is what people remember.
  6. 6. Do: • Start and join conversations. • Be generous and promote others. • Engage with experts, advocates and customers. • Share great content. • Reward your fans and followers with special discounts and promotions. • Ask customers directly for their feedback about your product or service. • Encourage engagement by responding to the people who answer. Don’t: • Use social media to “push” products. Suggestions in context of service or support are fine, if carefully handled; blatant marketing is a no-no. • Lose focus: be present, responsive and consistent. • Be defensive. Respond with respect and let the customer know you’re listening and trying to understand. • Respond too quickly. Listen first and then decide if a response is warranted. Figure out if this a loyal customer or a detractor of your brand. Manners and etiquette: • Listen first, talk second. • Be yourself. This is a conversation. • Show and expect respect. • Never use bad language (you know what I’m talking about). • Apologize with sincerity, if it’s appropriate. Humility is good. • Be polite; follow normal social norms, just like offline. • Identify yourself as an employee; do not make anonymous recommendations on behalf of your company. ✓ When to Engage and Not Engage With Customers So how do the best community manager’s do it? Here is a overview of what to do and what not to do when you’re engaging with customers: ❌ 👍 Rest assured, this isn’t a definitive list of what makes a successful community manager. But we think you’ll agree that this is a first step in the right direction to foster a customer- centric approach to business. Start here and see what other ideas come to mind.
  7. 7. Collaborate: Take customer service to your whole team While there will always be a need for dedicated support personnel, more and more companies are taking Community Management to the next level by empowering staff. This position provides organizations with a role that works cross-functionally in ensuring that all departments are valuable participants in the relationship with the customer. Train team members: It’s impossible to expect everyone on your team to know what’s happening with all of your customers. Keep your team in the loop with changes in your company culture and customer service strategy so everyone is on the same page when supporting the customer. Track and manage customer issues: Effective social customer service requires an airtight system to track customer issues; clarifying to whom each issue is assigned, its priority and when the issue has been updated or resolved. Assign owners: When a customer reaches out, who in your company is responsible for handling it? Create a system that assigns an owner to each customer issue based on priority, availability and expertise. That ensures each customer reaches the person best suited to properly answering the question. Customer profiles and history: Build a profile for each customer and keep track of all the customer’s social interactions with you. Otherwise your business will spend more time relearning each customer than actually resolving problems.
  8. 8. Create a knowledge base: Not every business has support staff available 24/7; self-service options bridge the gaps. Self-service is more than just your support center, it’s all the content you make available to your customers, enabling them to find the information on their own or when your front-line support team is unavailable. Measure its effectiveness: To ensure your social customer service efforts are effective, measure sentiment, response time and number of customer issues resolved on each channel. Also, determine which channel was used most often and why and how it can be improved. Wrap-Up These suggestions are the very tip of the social customer-service iceberg; hopefully it will get you thinking about social customer service and what changes need to be made to refocus your attention on your customers. If you have any questions or need help getting started, we’re happy to talk to you. You can email our customer support experts at support@desk.com or check out some handy resources on our blog at www.desk.com/blog.

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