How to measure the impact of social customer service

10th May 2012

Walter Van Norden outlines the three categories of social care metrics your brand will need.  

For most contact centres, social care, which is customer care provided across social media channels, will soon become a reality of day-to-day operations. While two years ago only 5% of companies used social customer service, Gartner predicts that by 2015 peer-to-peer support projects will supplement or replace tier one contact centre support in more than 40% of top 1,000 companies with a contact centre. More and more people are using social media as a customer service avenue, and progressive companies are responding to this need, ensuring that they are meeting these growing demands effectively and efficiently.

Social care offers a tremendous new customer service opportunity and businesses that engage are really seeing the benefits. When beginning to engage in social care, the first concern companies often have is how to control the volume of online interactions and how to measure the results of these online interactions. We’ve recently conducted work – in partnership with Kenna Inc. and Oracle Corporation – to explore how to handle the magnitude of support conversations and evaluate what metrics are best for contact centres to use to ensure social care programs are achieving or aligning with business goals and objectives. 
Filtering conversations to maximise response
In developing a social care plan, contact centres first need to create a strategy for coping with the volume of conversations that will happen across social media channels. Initially, the incredible quantity of conversations may be overwhelming, but the real issue is how to properly filter these conversations.
The good news is that not all conversations require a response and listening platforms can help filter and prioritise relevant conversations while eliminating irrelevant or inappropriate ‘noise’. Ensuring that your company has sophisticated technology platforms that are able to automatically score posts based on relevance, urgency and influence will help weed out extraneous conversations and will maximise the amount of time your team can spend responding to your clients’ questions. 
Dell is one example of a company that has made significant strides in finding ways to manage these conversations effectively and now handles up to 25,000 social conversations each day.  
Measuring your social care efforts
Once your social care plan is established and tools are in place to monitor and respond as needed, the next step is to evaluate the success of your social care team. While there are many key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you assess your team’s social care efforts, it is important to determine which metrics add the most value to your business. The three categories of social care metrics are:
  1. Service measures
  2. Quality measures
  3. Effectiveness measures


Service measures

There are a number of different types of service measures – some are associated with demand such as listening volume, whereas others use the speed of response as an indicator of service level.  
Service level is one of the more important indicators of success. An industry best practice is to measure service level every half-hour and report it as a weighted average over the entire day. However, companies should start by finding a feasible increment of time for measuring service metrics and move towards the ultimate goal of measuring in half-hour increments. In addition, contact centres should calculate which posts are not answered in the outlined time and calculate the percentage of posts that are abandoned.

Quality measures

Measuring the quality of social care responses is a little more complex than calculating service measures and requires both a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the responses. The key performance indicators that comprise quality measurements provide a more overarching examination of how social interactions are handled.
In addition, quality measures include an evaluation of the impact of ‘channel redirection’ on metrics calculation.
Channel redirection occurs when a customer asks a question on a channel that is not able to support an appropriate response. For example, on Twitter an agent can only respond in 140 characters, and may ask the customer to move the conversation to another channel in order to answer the question fully. Although channel redirection ensures that customers’ questions are answered, it raises problems for measuring performance and customer satisfaction. The solutions to these concerns are still new and are explored in the white paper.

Effectiveness measures

Effectiveness measures provide contact centre managers with an evaluation of how the social care conversations affect overall brand perception. Depending upon the type of business the contact centre is engaged in, managers may wish to measure the posters’ sentiment, how likely they are to evangelise the brand, as well as the total reach for each post.
The clearest indicator of customer satisfaction is first post resolution (FPR), which is adapted from the traditional contact centre metric, first call resolution (FCR). Using a customer survey, FPR measures the percentage of posts that are answered on the first response. In addition to FPR, contact centres should also use this survey to measure the quality of an agent’s response, and should calculate the number of conversations that are redirected or transferred to ensure they capture the overall picture.
A combination of service quality, effectiveness measures and a clear strategy from the outset will ensure your business gets the most out of its social care efforts. These are some of the methods that call centres can use to manage and evaluate their social care responses. In an upcoming article, I will look at how call centres can maximise their social care program’s return on investment (ROI).
Walter Van Norden is director of marketing for TELUS Internationala provider of customer care and contact centre outsourcing solutions to global clients. A white paper entitled ‘Measuring Social Media in the Contact Center,’ is available to download.

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