Successful social media is a marketing mandate for business today. It requires a campaign with a customer-first mindset that ignites conversations and amplifies reach. That includes compelling content strategies, traffic baselines, data analysis, a thorough knowledge of digital touchpoints, and relevant content that is in the moment. To be successful, the whole organization must be involved and engaged from top to bottom.
Successful media is nimble, scalable, holistic, and responsive. It maintains customer loyalty because it is never tone-deaf. It is fully engaged and prepared for the unexpected.
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Social customer care is a core requirement of business. For most, this means building up the capability to both listen for opportunities to serve customers on social channels as well as the ability to respond.
And while many brands do this, too many customer posts are still left unanswered. Researching this, Maritz and Evolve24 looked at 1,298 Twitter complaints and found that only 29 percent got responses, which people generally appreciate receiving.
To address this, social teams are increasingly turning to engagement platforms that allow measurable performance, providing the equivalent of call-center process tracking for social channels. (Disclosure: The firm I work for, Lithium, makes one such platform.)
The nearer social channel performance measurement gets to established best practices for both customer management and agent performance against timeliness and productivity standards, the more likely firms are to invest. Carry that forward, and the balance of customer care resolutions happening in community and social channels will continue to shift as self-service and asynchronous social support is selected by customers and supported by brands.
Issues challenging social teams and operational leadership include processes still based on ad hoc tools – the use of various native UIs, for example – when engaging on social channels, driving support and training costs while making actual performance measurement difficult. Switching to a more robust engagement management platform can help, and as noted many firms do this.
But as customers switch toward social channels – driven by their desire to self-serve, or to seek service on their own terms and schedules – the complexity and volume of inquiries arriving on social channels increases. Again, research shows that this increasing complexity reduces agent effectiveness in meeting customer’s needs.
This is where an alternate strategy may help: in particular, the use of your own internal subject matter experts to assist agents.
The subject matter experts inside your own organization may be an untapped source of assistance for agents. Almost incredibly, 70 percent of the typical workforce feels “disengaged” with the purpose, intent of the businesses they work for. Additionally, across the board, firms use less than 40 percent of the skills they employ.
How are these related? Given the complexity of customers’ questions and the difficulty that even the best agents can face adequately answering them, the untapped knowledge present in most firms is an opportunity waiting to blossom.
The question, of course, is “How”? Subject matter is distributed throughout the organization, and have skills that may not be immediately obvious. By comparison, the social customer care team is specifically trained, and addressable if not located in a defined unit.
Linking the two requires a process that allows agents to easily connect with these subject matter experts while also making it just as easy for your subject matter to self-identify.
To do this, many social teams rely on “cheat sheets,” those lists of email addresses grouped by help topics that agents can come to rely on. But to support scalable processes, you’ll have ensure that both agents and experts are able to connect without the use of such cheat sheets.
These sheets not only go out of date, they overload the experts by failing to distribute requests for assistance across your broader skill base. To resolve both of these, look for an engagement platform with tools that allow agents to easily request help without requesting a specific expert. The platform should also allow experts to both self- select and opt in to the specific help topics they are personally interested in and qualified to help with.
Think eHarmony for customer support, on steroids. These platforms exist; adopt one.
So to up your social support game, take a look around your organization and consider resources outside of the customer care team as you build your engagement and support capabilities. Make better of your total skill base and you’ll create better customer experiences in the process.
That’s how you win.
Dave Evans is vice president of social strategy at Lithium Technologies and will be in Australia in February hosting a “Social Technology Shift Summit” in Melbourne Tuesday February 21 and Sydney Thursday February 23. For more information visit the Summit website.
This post original appeared in the ADMA blog.
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While I won't get into "change management" per se (this is a webinar, not a two year consulting enagement!) i will definitely tak about the need to build cross-discipline teams, the ways in which customers have successfully done this, and the tools and technologies (e.g., Monitor Walls, Shared Dashboards, LSI) that Lithium offers which facilitate this.
Thanks for joining -- I am really looking forward to this session. 🙂
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Your Total Community includes everyone who interacts with your brand: your customers, employees, and business partners. What if you could harness the power of that collective knowledge and expertise to provide a consistently amazing customer experience? In this session I'm going to show you how Lithium’s Total Community approach enables and extends your ability to connect, engage with, and respond to customers to:
Improve margin by reducing the cost to serve
Enhance satisfaction by facilitating customer-led innovation
Drive revenue by enhancing sales and lead conversion
Building for Total Community
Customers engage with both brands and each other in conversation before, during, and after purchase. So businesses have an obligation to respond, to be present, and to participate throughout the journey, from interested prospect to loyal advocate. And that participation goes well beyond marketing and customer care, too. It involves your entire organization. Customer experience is truly “everyone’s job.”
Customer experience is both defined by and reflective of the entire set of stakeholders that influence, enable, and support your brand, product, or service. It’s your customers, to be sure, but it’s also your employees, your supply chain, and the policy makers that impact your industry. That can be a lot to get your head around, so here’s a tip: start with your employees. The employees of an organization –beyond marketing and customer care--play a role in creating customer experience.
Connecting employees to customers makes business sense. The trick is, of course, actually connecting them: too many organizations are still built around skill specialization and defined disciplines rather than collaborative interaction. The result? A front-line (aka, “customer care”) that literally shields the organization from customers, combined with a publishing side—marketing—that shapes and defines the brand, providing the initial attraction that leads to purchase.
Predictably, firms so segmented—intellectual walled gardens, if you will—fail to tap the locked-up knowledge of the complete organization, knowledge that can be used to ensure the steady realization of customers so satisfied that they begin advocating for brand, product or service. Beyond margin enhancement, as customers shift from phone-agent-led resolution to peer-based solution co-creation and validation, adoption of an organization-wide “Total Community” engagement strategy can bridge not only customer care and marketing, but ensure that everyone in the company feels part of each customer’s superior experience
The takeaway is this: social media marketing and customer care are clear first steps, but to consistently deliver great customer experiences, to "create a competitive advantage," you’ve got to get to the hard work of re-engineering your organization for collaborative interaction with customers. By connecting across your firm — by tapping your total community — you can go further faster than you ever thought possible. It’s the power of customers, combined with the power of employees. Tap it.
Join the Discussion
Want to learn more about the value of Total Community for you? I'll go in-depth and give you a chance to ask your questions. Join the webcast-- Thursday, December 10 th at 11am PT / 2pm ET. Register here.
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It seems like a simple idea: use social media to build your business. In reality, it's anything but. This workshop, filled with practical tips, real cases studies and best practices will give you a head start on building an integrated solid social media marketing and customer service strategy. Even more, you'll come away with a basis for calculating a real ROI.
In this workshop, you'll see how to:
1) connect social media marketing with your customer care efforts to build brand advocates;
2) use a variety of social tools and platforms to build your business;
3) measure the results, and how to show a real ROI;
4) extend your program across your organization by building a cross-functional team.
Ahead of the workshop, you may want to check out some of my prior articles on social media and customer service: you'll find them here at ClickZ.
I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco and to sharing with you a proven, sensible approach to building your strategy.
Dave is the VP of Social Strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement." Dave is a regular columnist for ClickZ, Dave was a co-founder of social technology provider Social Dynamx, acquired by Lithium. Prior, Dave was a product manager with Progressive Insurance and a systems analyst with NASA| Jet Propulsion Labs.
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