It’s no secret that a company’s customer service has expanded past its call center and into the land of social media. And while there are lots of tools you can use to help you successfully integrate social media activity into your customer service, it’s important to first figure out how the two will work together.
We spoke to Rodney Kuhn, founder and CEO at Envision to better understand the ways that social media can be woven into the fabric of customer service. Over the course of our conversation five themes emerged.
It’s About the Customer Journey
During our July Tweet Jam, many panelists asserted that the customer journey was defined by the customer, not the company. Kuhn agrees. But what if you want your customer to follow a different path or explore a new avenue?
There are ways that businesses can direct customers into new areas, but there has to be something in it for the customer. The best way to get the customer to trust you is to increase your availability. Being that social media is open 24 hours a day, and your call center may not be, make yourself available to answer questions or provide assistance during the times that your contact center isn’t available.
Share Knowledge to Spread Awareness
Know why your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes? Envision makes it possible for other people within a company to listen to calls that pertain to a certain topic or product issue. After all personal and identifying information is stripped away from the recording, being able to have department members listen can be valuable to fixing product issues and addressing customer issues publicly. You can’t fix what you don’t know, so the better you can share customer issues straight from the customer’s mouth, the better equipped your company will be to handle them as they arise.
An example of the Envision dashboard which lets the right people share and subscribe to customer recordings.
Empower the Call Agent
By now we know that empowered employees can often spearhead innovation. Same is true for when those employees are call agents in your contact center. Obviously it depends on the industry to determine just how flexible your call agent can be in helping to remedy a situation, but in general, agents who feel as if they are helping customers solve problems, rather than just acting as a sounding board, are going to perform better.
Additionally, giving call agents the ability to view where a customer is coming from — literally — and their behavior history can provide great insight as to how they need to be addressed by the time it reaches the call center.
Influence the Intangible (As well as the tangible)
Often call agents and customers are asked to rate the quality of the call or issue reported. But how do you effectively quantify what is surely a qualitative conversation? What does it mean if a customer is happy? What does it mean that the call agent was unhelpful?
These types of feedback are rarely black and white and can be easily influenced by how their inquiry was received by a company. As we know from previous surveys, most consumer commenters on social media just want to feel validated and know that they’ve been heard. With a little business intelligence, call agents can help diffuse tense situations before they start. (Did you know that most auto insurance agents are prompted to say “Oh my. Are you okay?” when a customer calls to report a car accident?) Whether you’re responding to inquiries on Twitter or over the phone, the words you choose can help influence the outcome and can save your reputation.
Communicate Changes to Your Customers
One of the reasons customers think their comments go unheard is because they don’t always know when a company has incorporated their feedback. While you don’t necessarily need to reward each and every customer who suggested features for your new release, it can’t hurt to communicate to your customers that their feedback gave way to those new features.
Many companies also have channels through which customers can vote new features up and down. Call agents can also be prepared to alert customers that their feedback is being funneled through the right channels or if new features will be announced soon.
Bottom line, the more transparent your company is about what they do with customer feedback the more empowered customers will feel about giving it. However, not all feedback will lead to something spectacular, so it’s also important to acknowledge that not everything will make it’s way into a release (“Yes, adding a blue tooth to tennis shoes would make it easier to stay in touch, however, it’s not a priority for us at the moment”).