Customer service and support is continuously evolving and great service differentiates brands and turns customers into advocates. This blog will discuss three service buckets and how an online community can benefit your company while providing your customers an outstanding service experience.
The First Bucket: Phone Queue
Something we are all familiar with, but often hate using. Because there such a high staffing cost to companies, customers are often burdened with lengthy menus or unhelpful automated responses. To add further irritation, it is often difficult to reach the rep with the right level of knowledge leading to transferred calls, the need for a customer to start over; a horrible experience.
The Second Bucket: Self Service
Convenience and speed are appreciated by customers and allowing them to help themselves is very popular. YouTube videos, or a knowledge base created from solved customer problems are very helpful to customers and will free up support rep time, but what if a customer has a question? If there is no way to ask a question or if comments are not monitored, the problem still exists and the customer remains frustrated.
The Third Bucket: Online Community
An online community offers customers many things they are seeking: speed of answers, access to a knowledge base, and most importantly, the ability to ask questions about their unique issue. Like a knowledge base, a community cuts costs by documenting solutions and providing self service; both reduce demand on support reps. Furthermore, most community solutions are provided by customers: a cost savings for the company, and trusted by peers.
An online community will deliver trusted and targeted support to your customers in a timely manner while reducing costs for your company. If you have not done so, it is time for your community! I look forward to your questions and comments.
My recap of the 3/1/2017 #SproutChat hosted by & @SproutSocial Join the conversation every Wednesday at 3pm EST.
Q1: What’s the difference between social listening and monitoring?
- Social Listening leads to engagement – monitoring is simply seeing what is out there
- Social monitoring can lead to trouble: why are ppl taking about my brand this way? Engage and find out
- Social Listening will help you improve your product, service, and customer trust
- No matter listening or monitoring – you should wonder why ppl are going to 3rd party places rather than talking to you
Q2: Why is it important to go beyond just monitoring brand mentions and responding reactively?
- Responding builds customer trust
- Responding uncovers product improvement and sales opportunities
- Engagement creates happy customers and happy customers talk positively about you
- Most brands make it hard to speak with someone – Engage and be a champion
Q3: How can a brand surprise and delight customers when providing social customer care?
- The fact the brand actually engaged
- Problems happen – brands that engage and solve them create and keep loyal customers
- Reply within 1 hour – Show empathy – Admit fault in public – Confirm resolution and satisfaction
- Do not use canned responses – make them personal and show you have actual people who care within your organization
Q4: What are some good ways to keep track of ongoing conversations with members of your community?
- I use & to keep track of conversations
- Anyone use for social listening? Great tool
Q5: What are some creative ways to use Twitter boolean (advanced) search to find opportunities to engage?
- Have not used it 😦 Love to hear more
- Answer from @sprout_sarah – Here’s a comprehensive cheatsheet on Advanced Search for Twitter, SUPER helpful: Twitter Search
Q6: What are the best ways to keep track of trends while listening on social?
- I use a board – makes it easy to classify and find ideas
- Follow people and add them to lists – then you can add the list to a dashboard to easily monitor it
Please stop by the next #SproutChat and join the conversation. I look forward to your comments and collaborating with you.
I often get asked: “What makes you tick and how do you motivate others?” These are my four principals; I would love to discuss them further with you.
Collaborate, Question, Understand
- Ask: Is this the best way and why?
- Remove silos & work towards a common goal
- Understand goals, expectations & what equals success
Manage people not spreadsheets
- Encourage and empower
- Ensure my message is understood
- Numbers are easy to manage, people are not
- Metrics are guardrails that ensure you are on track
Be a customer advocate
- Have a win-win outlook
- Do not hide behind bad policy
- Help them navigate your processes
- Be their partner and make life easier
Engagement over membership
- Rather than 100,000 members, achieve a 90% answer rate
- 75% of content / answers are customer driven
- Without engagement, you have a list, not a community
How do you manage, motivate, and keep your team on track? I welcome your comments and questions.
No matter if you are politician, business person, or social media pro, you (should) seek to gain trust and the loyalty it provides. Trust. So hard to earn and so easy to lose.
You reach a crossroad and you are not sure which path to take; do I need to defend my brand or organization? When that time comes, ask yourself and those in the room: will this decision pass the “sunlight test?” If what you are trying to hide reaches the sunlight, what will people think? Why would you be hiding this in the first place?
You may need to break a tie or relationship, but you will be right with a clear conscience and respected reputation.
Your comments are welcome.
Online communities have proven value and you need one:
- A low cost and trusted customer service channel
- A focus group that will yield better results than a survey
- A way to interact with and build trust with your customers
Great. Let’s build that clubhouse, but where? What are the features we want? How can we provide a great user experience? How much will it cost?
If you are looking to do this on the cheap, LinkedIn Groups or a G+ Community (yes Google Plus is still around), are fine options without any cost to you. The snag with both is limited or no reporting regarding community health as well as cataloging / recalling conversations. Check out both by joining group on both platforms (before starting yours) and make notes of what you like and what you don’t. Maybe you do have some money to spend.
If paid options don’t scare you, I recommend Jive and Lithium. Both of these platforms are easy for your customers to use and can be utilized for internal and external communities. There is quite a bit more set up required for these options, but the reporting and user experience is much better.
No matter your budget, do not go forth without a Community Manager, clear goals for your community, and metrics that define success. Building a community takes time and I am happy to discuss that too; first decide where you want to build your clubhouse.
As always, your comments and questions are most appreciated.
Social media is a funny thing: brands covet its reach, but often forget about engaging with those who provide valuable feedback. Finding the right channel(s), social listening, and crafting the right outgoing messages are important, but without engagement, you will not be trusted; without trust, you will not succeed. Let’s discuss keys to engagement and resolution.
The customer reaches out via Tweet, Facebook, or a post within your community with a constructive, objective issue they have with your product or service.
- The customer should receive a response within the hour
- Apologize and show empathy
- Research the customer’s history:
- Products utilized
- Their past issues
- Is there already an open case for this issue?
- If possible, answer the question at the initial contact; if an off-line chat is needed, offer the customer communication options:
- Instant message
- A link to a related discussion within your community
- A private chat room within your community
- A one on one phone call that may include a WebEx session
- Engage, listen, understand:
- Problem scope
- Business impact
- Pain points
- Customer expectations
- Offer solutions that are a win-win
- Get customer buy-in to your solution and its timeline
- Deliver results
- Confirm customer satisfaction
- Never take things personally or argue publicly with the customer
- This may be an opportunity to improve your product or service
- If this is a recurring issue, eliminating issue eliminates future cases
- The customer may not be as familiar with the product line as you; he is frustrated and deserves your attention and help.
- All companies and services encounter problems, the very best acknowledge them and respond creating brand advocates and loyal customers.
Don’t fear complaints. Engage with customers, take ownership, fix the issue, amaze them, and build advocates.
What are your engagement challenges or fears?
You are under stress about customer service: resources are limited and you know that an engaged and educated customer will not only be a happy one, but will also better utilize your product. Self-service is cost effective and fast: time for a knowledge base of articles your customers can access on their time to answer their questions. Great in theory, BUT…
No matter how well the article is written, it may not completely answer the customer’s unique issue. “Was this article helpful?” If the customer cannot ask a question he still has a problem and will be frustrated. Frustrated customers seek other options that make their lives easier and that means lost contracts and revenues. What can you do? A knowledge base is great, but blogging is better.
Like a knowledge base article, a blog is customer-specific content that provides self-service. Blogging is better because it not only allows customers to ask questions, but gives you the opportunity to engage and learn from them. Answering their particular question through engagement satisfies, educates, and makes them feel heard; increasing their loyalty. In addition, you may uncover ways to improve your product as well as opportunities to increase wallet share.
Don’t just inform, learn.
Your comments and questions are most welcomed!