Social media marketing and social customer care have merged. “Always on” customers are turning to each other for answers to product and service questions, and businesses can benefit from this. In a conversation that I had with a cable and satellite customer service agent, he stated that a single percentage point reduction in call volume was worth seven million “bottom line” dollars. That drives an interest in call deflection, and generally means moving support interactions away from a dedicated, yet expensive support team.
As a result the social customer service implementations at leading communications, tech and financial service providers increasingly include peer and social agent channels. In a typical mix of support interactions, customers typically do the following actions when trying to get answers to question or problems they may be experiencing:
- Ask questions on Twitter (or other social media networks where your company has an active presence).
- Discuss your product in a support forum (or community) which you have created for your business.
- Turn directly to Google, and post their questions there hoping to be lead to the right answer.
Therefore, being able to manage these channels effectively is in your business’ best interest. So, what does that actually require?
In the first scenario, your social engagement team may see the post and therefore respond. But, rather than answering the question themselves, they will connect this customer with members in your support community that are actively discussing the issue. Two benefits arise: agent productivity is increased, reducing expenses, and at the same time customers meet others with similar interests and therefore join your community. This creates a stronger bond with your brand in the process! Both of these benefits can be measured.
For conversations happening in your support forums, your role is primarily maintaining decorum—think “terms of service” associated with your support forum here—by ensuring that questions are answered and taking advantage of the ideas that invariably bubble up.
Finally, in the third case, it’s quite possible that the customer searching for assistance using a search engine will find your peer community straight away. Why? Because the dynamic, popular conversations that occur in support forums and customer communities are very attractive to search engines. SEO is another example of a quantifiable benefit of a peer technology investment.
As you plan your social customer experience program, think about the value of peer technology, and about the metrics that you’ll need in order to prove the business value. Your customers want to help you: all you need to do is give them the tools.