social customer care: you’re doing it wrong!

In preparation for a customer meeting around social customer care, I am browsing through Twitter and Facebook looking for customer care requests: I can see a lot of variations of #badcx, so I thought it’d be interesting to put together a list of what NOT to do when your customers are complaining or asking help publicly via social media:

  1. If the rant is specific to a common issue that many other are experiencing, you don’t want to just respond but to show everyone how to fix the problem so that the same experience can be shared among peer customers.
  2. When a user is ranting about something that went bad with your company or product, this means that they probably already tried to contact you via phone or email and typically this is their last resort. So the ideal answer cannot be “please contact us at 800…”. The response should be immediate and in-channel. If personal information are involved, publicly switch to DM or Messenger and then try and contact the customer directly.
  3. If there is a help request that can be solved by providing technical or product information, by all means provide those info publicly! Not only the requester will be happy as cake, but the love will spread to other users that are maybe searching for the same info on your very website!
  4. When you are a large global company, sometimes issues can only be resolved at field level. This does not mean you can’t include them in the public social conversation! At minimum, you should show the customer that you have passed on the information, and they will be contacted by the local branch. Responding to go to the local store…well…reads just #badcx.
  5. Again, even if you are a large corporation with lots of department and employees, if a customer resorted to public shaming you, responding that you are “just the social media team” does not help improving the perception of your company. Consumers don’t care about your internal organization: if the social media team has your official brand, then it is the company front page as your contact centre is the front door voice.
  6. If a user is so frustrated that they posted the same comment on your timeline over and over again, it’s not enough just to respond to one: every single message is potentially dangerous and searchable, and must be addressed with care. Wouldn’t it be the same if they took the time to make 10 complain calls at your contact centre? Or would you drop the line at the second call because you already answered?
  7. And last but not least…the language. If you are a global corporation in 20 countries it might be assumed you also support the local language of your operations. Responding to a public tweet or post in a different language is not considered polite, unless you offer an explanation and at least a tentative translation with any of the commonly offered free on-line tools. Also, there are lots of translators out there, in case of lack of skilled resources.

My overall impression is that you can immediately spot when social marketing teams are responding to customer care inquiries: the language is perfect and polished, the responses look pre-approved and are always politically correct, but the results?

Companies need to start providing decent social customer care, and they can make this decision easily by just browsing their own pages and accounts today.

 

 

 

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You! Yes you! What is your social care strategy?

I now use on a daily basis LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine: I know there’s a lot more but there is also some work, family time and personal taste involved here.

Sometimes I read posts and responses from companies and brands that are simply amazing: witty and competent and sarcastic and smart. These are the kind of interactions that will make me love (or at a minimum, deeply respect) a brand or a company or a person in the social space. Not only they responded, but the person behind the keyboard went the extra mile and put some brain in the response, and the result is sometimes really awesome.

This happens maybe once or twice a month, often with big corporations, sometimes with smaller businesses, often with public figures, sometimes with a single individual who is simply being him/herself.

Should it happen more? Hell, Yes!

We have passed the stage where companies needed to be out there and respond promptly to just survive; now they need to be out there and present and smartand amazing. This is how it’s done and once someone breaks a threshold, the new level instantly becomes the norm (or so my kids teach me every day).

So back to the contact centre (or CX centre, or CE pod or any new cool name you might want to call it), if training your agents to handle responses in the fastest and most proficient way was a challenge, and typically the main one, now you need to up the notch and think that the people who are out there, publicly responding to your customers, not only need to be trained for excellence: they need to be amazing no matter what. The so called dedicated team, which typically is a small team of interns who are passionate about social, now needs to become a centre of excellence of your contact centre, in order to provide jaw-dropping awe-inspiring posts and tweets and interactions that can bring your brand to the next level. The “social experiment” team should be one of amazing people (incidentally, that also reflect your company’s view and mission) selected by checking their public profiles, challenging and engaging them with the best results, finally spotting the social excellence and bringing it into your strategy.

Figuring out how to use well all the social channels is the hard part, and largely depends on the type of brand, business and target customers. But it’s not impossible if you have the right people working on it. I remember how many years ago, working as a contact centre engineer, I used to tell my customers that the overall strategy must always start with people, and while technology and channels and rules of engagement drastically changed with time, this bit of wisdom thankfully did not.

Improving an already exceptional customer experience? Why, Yes!

I was recently in a round table at a marketing event, with an engaging title: “Selling and caring in the age of omni-channel”. My giveaways are two direct questions I got from customers:

  1. Is social presence really a must and is it worth the effort?
  2. How can we improve our customer experience to get the best out of the consumers’ value?lightbulb

The first answer was very easy: in my opinion you have to be out there. Yes, it’s a jungle, it’s hard, and kind of things will go bad at some point because people are always complaining and unsatisfied, and yes you will have to dedicate people answering social posts, but in the end….if you are not out there, your competitors are. And consumers will define your ability and innovation strive based on your presence_or worst, based on your absence.

The second question I still find tricky to answer: even if you are out there and even if you are giving a great customer experience and your product is gold and your customers love you…you still have a need for optimization and improvement that will drive you to the next step of your customer journey map.

And the only way of moving forward is innovation: try new things, ask your customers what would make them even happier, build a community to get them more connected (and let’s be honest, to build your own knowledge base around theirs), offer collateral services that might help them in their daily struggle, think out of the box. They will remember that, and love your company even more for taking the time to understand them. and in the end, they will keep buying from you. Because this is no longer the era of “business as usual”.