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How a social customer service approach can help you compete

Every day, UK customer service teams struggle to meet the demands and expectations of today’s social customer. Outdated tools and processes, as well as an over-reliance on traditional call centres leave agents and their customers frustrated. Not only do companies who fall behind the times face higher employee turnover rates, they risk permanently losing customers. You only get one chance to do customer service right.

For forward-thinking companies, meeting their customers’ expectations for support that happens when and where they want – be that by phone, Facebook, Twitter, or on the brand’s online community – is a top priority. Brands that adopt technology solutions that streamline the customer service process are creating a distinct competitive advantage by rising to meet and exceed customer expectations.

Currently, most leading brands have some form of social customer care support. These days, you can tweet to a brand and an agent will respond within 24 hours, in many cases. But being always-connected to the internet via smart devices has created a new normal way of living: where customers are used to having access to anything online whenever they want it. A brand that responds at the 24 hour mark as opposed to within the hour, might very well be dismissed as too slow, or worse, uncaring. Customers don’t wait. They complain. Loudly. Online. Until they get a response.

So, how can you get ahead?

Thankfully, technology for social customer service is developing at the same pace as customer expectations, and there are now solutions available that help customer service teams tap into expertise from not only employees in other business units, but also customers and stakeholders. Why does this matter? Because the faster you can provide an accurate solution that resolves the customer’s issue, the more satisfied your customer will be.

Customers prefer self-service, if they can find the answer within your community, they will be happy. Reaching out to customer care is typically a last resort (and they are often already frustrated since they couldn’t find the answer on their own).

Implementing social customer service platforms that increase agent efficiency, deflect calls, and improve customer satisfaction is one of the wisest decisions your organisation can make. But convincing your broader organisation about the value can sometimes be a daunting task.

Building the business case for social customer service

Our UK customer service survey revealed that more than six in 10 customer care managers believe that having the necessary budget is the main issue they face in adapting to a social care approach. Knowing the facts and figures is key. Community and social customer support is proven to create savings, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. According to McKinsey, social customer support decreases customer care cost, by a ratio of approximately six to one, compared to traditional call centres.

The business will significantly benefit from a change in how you relate to your customers and there are tools, such as shared dashboards and monitor walls, that give visibility into the conversations your customers are having about and with your brand on social, and how social customer care is effecting sentiment, sales, etc. Shifting the entire organisation to a social customer care approach can help everyone feel as if they have ownership (and impact) on the customer experience.

What kind of impact are brands experiencing?

The giffgaff online community has saved the business around $35m (£24m) per annum by encouraging customers to source and share their own answers, reducing response times to issues to within 90 seconds on average. As a result, the company increased its NPS score to 73 – one of the highest in the world. Vodafone UK’s online community deflected over 2.2 million customers from its assisted service channels, including its call centre, in the last year alone.

By building a rock solid business case for social customer support, your organisation will be able to meet customers where they are and deliver an exceptional and memorable customer service experience at every touchpoint.

Fabrice Etienne, Marketing Director, EMEA, Lithium Technologies