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Is Social Customer Care Better than Call Center Support?

3rd Feb 2016
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Recently while flying a major airline, I vented my frustration at the airline with a direct tweet as I stood in line to board the plane.  Minutes later, as I settled into my seat, the airline tweeted back.  That’s my definition of near-real time.  That’s my definition of service.

Social customer care is rapidly becoming many consumers’ preferred channel for service. Call that same airline or any company for that matter—your cable provider, your cell phone carrier, the hotel you are staying at for your next trip—and you can feel yourself aging as you wade through automated phone menus.  You press 1, then 3, then turn around 3 times, stand on one leg and blink while you hope for the chance to talk to a live rep who may actually know something about your questions. It’s beyond frustrating and we’ve all experienced it.

The fact is, companies have a real opportunity to dramatically increase the customer experience if they implement a social customer care team: not only will they achieve a reduced cost of support but they will foster happier customers. According to McKinsey, social care responses can cost as little as 9% of the traditional phone or in person costs of service and the resulting care leaves the customer 4-5 points happier on the satisfaction scale.  I don’t know about you, but I’m all about paying one tenth for something and being happier in the end.

United Airlines on Twitter

GEICO on Twitter

Amazon on Twitter

Building a social customer care team isn’t hard.  At KLM Airlines, the head of marketing literally set up the company’s social care function the weekend the ash cloud covered Northern Europe.  Of course, their function has grown and matured since then, but the initial setup was relatively simple. Now, they have the people, process and technology to make the team run smoothly and effectively. Still, according to Aberdeen, only 62% of businesses have established a social customer care program.

The key to getting it right is to think globally and think real time from day one. You’ll need a solution that helps you gather all the social feedback in one place in near-real time, weed through the noise and prioritize the responses, and distribute the workload across teams and geographies. 

One question you may ask is how to fund such a team. Well, if McKinsey is right, you should easily be able to fund it through your customer service team savings.  No matter how you fund it, one thing is clear; you can’t wait, consumers are using social more and more.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, we have a new learned behavior: tweet and get a reply instantly. 

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