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Does social customer service hold the key to omnichannel excellence?

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22nd Apr 2015
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The data is clear that providing excellent customer service is one of the best ways to win the loyalty of your customers and grow your business. This concept also applies to the social media channels where the complexities and challenges are even greater. But companies too often create channel silos that result in an inconsistent omnichannel experience and end up hurting, rather than helping, a company.

Customers want to interact with you on their channel of preference, which can vary depending on the complexity and urgency with which the request needs to be resolved. The key to providing an excellent omnichannel experience is to create a simple social customer service programme that empowers your employees to assist customers, regardless of the channel.

Start with your customer service representatives

The first step to creating an excellent customer experience is to redesign your processes to be centred on the needs of your customers and customer service representatives. Feedback is a gift, so leverage all of your data, complaints and repeated interactions to identify where the pain points are with your end-to-end processes and focus on redesigning them from the 'outside in'. When you begin to streamline your processes, your customer experience improves, your costs are reduced, and your customer service representatives are happier.

It is also critical to keep your technology simple. Technology plays a vital role in all customer service channels and its primary purpose is to make the business processes easier for the customer service representatives to follow. Technology should be intuitive, fast and reliable while supporting the customer-centred workflow followed by the customer service representative.

Finally, consistent messaging is the key to an excellent omnichannel experience. Despite the complexity of multiple channels, companies must create a messaging strategy to help maintain a brand experience across all departments, regardless of the channel, on which your customer is reaching you. A messaging strategy will ensure that all of your customer service agents are fully and quickly addressing customer service issues.

Focus on the five key ingredients for a successful social customer service programme

Providing your customer service representatives with streamlined processes, a clear messaging strategy and simple technology will empower them to solve customer service issues quickly. Meanwhile, business leaders can focus on the five necessary components to improving social customer service:

  • Voice of the Customer insights: Listening to your customer is one of the most important components to an excellent customer service strategy. After all, it is their experience you are hoping to improve. By analysing all of your customer service engagements (web, voice, chat, social, etc.), you can gain insights into the strategies that are resonating well with your customers along with areas of improvement. Social listening is especially critical given the public nature of this channel of communication. Not only will voice of customer insights help you strengthen your customer service programme, but these insights will also foster strong relationships. Listening to your customers will help you earn trust and build loyal fans.
  • Omnichannel roadmap assessment: Your customers are empowered to contact you across multiple channels, and that’s okay as long as you have a comprehensive plan in place for transitioning the conversation. By assessing your capabilities and creating a roadmap, you can align your messaging and values so that regardless of the touch point, your customers’ issues are being solved quickly, seamlessly and on the best channel for that type of transaction. 
  • Operational and technology assessments: Sometimes, the best way to improve your social customer service program is to compare it to benchmarked best practices. By comparing the technology and processes you have in place compared to your competitors, you can gain valuable insights that will help you develop more sophisticated service offerings.
  • Business insights and process optimisation: A holistic social customer service programme is incomplete without business insights. By analysing your social customer service data, you can develop the necessary insights for improving your company’s end-to-end, cross functional processes. These business insights will results in improved customer service and significant cost reduction as well.
  • Risk assessment: Social media is a great resource, as it allows brands to interact and engage with a customer. However, there are risks involved with social media, and your company must be aware of and trained on the proper ways for handling these more complex, written and public communications. By leveraging best practices, you can effectively manage compliance and brand risks that are somewhat inevitable with social customer service.

Creating an excellent omnichannel experience is complex and requires a defined social customer service programme. If you train and empower your customer service representatives to solve problems quickly with the right technology and messaging, you can focus on creating a social customer service plan that improves the omnichannel experience.

Pam Plyler is the executive practice lead, customer experience and contact centre management at The Northridge Group.

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