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Ensure Good Customer Interactions

You want your business to do well? Then you have to make sure your customers have only good things to say about you. The following tips are from an article by Dave Evans, VP of social strategy at Lithium and the author of best-selling Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, and they provide some good insights on improving customer care.

 3 Practical Tips for Improved Social Customer Care

These three tricks can help you enhance your social customer care, one of the touch points with the potential to create the most conversations among consumers.

3 Strategies for Building Favorable Conversations

Recognizing the futility in trying to “boil the ocean,” rather than starting with “aligning your organization,” here are three straightforward but effective strategies for ensuring excellent customer care interactions.

1. Real Time. Real Space.

Meet customers where they are, when they want. Most leading brands now offer customer care (meaning “support, pre-sales, and innovation/research”) in channels ranging from email to chat to phone to social. Some still accept hand-written letters, too. By ensuring that customers can get consistently excellent service regardless of channel you can ensure that customers’ conversations are predictably excellent.

As testament to the power of social technology, phone response has actually improved for many brands given the expectation of immediate response on social channels. But on that note: a customer’s demand for immediate response doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have to acquiesce and deliver it, especially if you are just starting out. The key is to set expectations: if you can only respond to Twitter during business hours Monday through Friday, say that on your Twitter page/profile. You can always expand your service hours later, after you’ve proven the case.

2. Express Lanes and Concierge Service

Moving up in complexity and potential hazard, some firms are experimenting with “express lanes” and/or “premium service.” Not to be confused with the long-standing pay-for-support programs common in enterprise software support these new service programs more closely resemble Disney’s FASTPASS. Got five minutes? Call 1-800-SUPPORT. Got five seconds? Pay $1 and skip to the head of the call queue. Same ride, less waiting. This is an offering that makes intuitive sense: you pay more and you get more, a concept that most customers understand and accept given that it is more or less how the rest of the world works. But it’s also an offering that risks a backlash: more than a few companies have tried and then abandoned this approach, citing egalitarian concerns, while others are engaged in variations that appear to work and result in enhanced customer satisfaction.

Concierge service is similar: think Mercedes-Benz and its first-name-basis Service Advisors. When our cars need care, I call Mercedes-Benz of Austin and always speak to Bobby: Bobby always know what was done on our cars last and what is needed next. He also knows what kind of loaner I like and the days/times that work best for me. You can do this easily with social customer care (it’s more complicated with a phone system because of the synchronous nature of phone calls) by simply assigning specific social handles (aka, customers) to specific agents. But beware: customers have to understand this, and your workflow has to account for specific agent-availability. If concierge care is appropriate for your brand it’s a great way to consistently and measurably delight customers.

3. Customer Collaboration

If your customer care platform includes a peer-to-peer component, connect customers with questions to customers with answers. This is an established best practice for telecom, tech, and similar businesses with a complex product and diverse customer base: simply put, customers scale across customers faster (and more efficiently) than do dedicated agents. But wait, there’s more: you can gain more from a customer support forum, for example, by actively (versus passively) encouraging customers to visit it. When a question arrives on Twitter, your social agent can send a link back to a vetted answer in the support forum. This “teaches” your customers how to use self-help (peer-to-peer) for future questions. Even cooler? Connect your IVR system to your peer-to-peer resources: as customers press or say “broadband connection,” scan your support resources for applicable, popular solutions and offer to send them via email or text.

Three approaches, each easily in reach of most organizations and each designed for a specific application. Most important, however, is to recognize that while the immediate business objective may be scale (capacity) or ROI (expense reduction, improved sales) the end-game is “more and more favorable conversations with and about your brand, product, or service.” It’s about seeing social technology for what it is — an enabler of engagement and hence meaningful conversation — rather than one push channel. Make 2015 the year you invite customers into your business, and 2015 may just be your best year yet.

 

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