Getting customer service right is difficult. Over time, the way that companies handle customer service issues has evolved as new technology is introduced. While social technology has created new opportunities for better customer service, it has also created challenges. Specifically, the use of social media to provide customer service has created unique problems that many companies are struggling to address.
Following the mass popularization of the internet, new customer service tools were introduced. These included email, forum and ticket/desk services. Most of these were adopted by companies hoping to reduce their call center volume. The major disadvantage of these features was that they failed to answer the customer’s queries in real time and were often unreliable. This meant that the customer experience failed to meet customer expectations.
The social web saw the next evolution in online customer service. While social technology held great promise for improved customer experience, it was not immediately adopted by companies. There a number of different reasons for this:
• Technology is observed for long term viability – Companies typically take 7-10 years to adopt a new technology after it is first introduced. This is to ensure that it is not a just a fleeting fad, which will be replaced.
• Sensitive information may be released – Because the conversation is being viewed by a large group of individuals, it can be difficult to protect sensitive information, while efficiently dealing with the customers queries. When social media assistance first appeared, security was- naturally- most organizations’ primary concern. This is similar to what we are seeing today in big-corporations’ hesitance to adopt cloud services.
• The issue can get beyond the company’s control – When using social media to answer a query the issue can become inflated. The ability of third parties to comment on the issue can further amplify the problem at hand. Social media platforms have become wise to this issue and have found ways to combat it. For example, Facebook allows companies to block unhelpful comments.
• Managing social media requires additional resources – A study demonstrated that 80% of customers that complain via social media expect a response. The unfortunate situations is, however, that only 44% of online complainers receive a response. The reason for the slow reply is typically due to the company not having an adequate number of staff to answer questions on the site. In order for mid to large size companies to adequately service social media accounts, a team of least three staff members must be dedicated to the task around the clock.
The key to successfully integrating social media into your customer service is knowing when to use these platforms to handle queries. The most effective approach is to implement hybrid model where some questions are handled through social media and others passed through to traditional customer service avenues.
Social networking platforms are best for simple queries that can be answered in a single message. For more complex queries they should be forwarded to more traditional options such as email, ticket systems or the call center. This hybrid approach has a number of benefits. It allows consumers to quickly receive answers to simple questions. This reduces the amount of call and email volume, freeing up resources to answer more complex questions in greater detail.
The latest evolution in customer service is offering self-service options for the consumer. With a self-service option the customer can independently find the answers to their problems. WalkMe, for example, offers an intuitive solution to guide customers through the problems that they may be experiencing. By allowing the customer to quickly find the answer to common queries, the weight on social media monitoring can be minimized.
Social media has created new opportunities for companies to service their customer, but with these opportunities came new challenges. Many companies struggle to meet customer expectations due to the resources required to answer questions quickly and accurately. Social media is an excellent addition to more traditional platforms. Until a company is equipped with social media staff, it should employ self-service options to help ease the queries load.
Amy Clark is the lead author and editor of two customer service blogs – I Want It Now, which examines the era of instant gratification, and Self Service Central, which provides insights into how businesses can help customers assist themselves online. She also serves as Customer Success Director at WalkMe. Follow her @Iwantitnowblog