Is social media where customer service goes to die? Can virtual agents help companies breathe new life into their brand’s customer experience? David Lloyd, CEO of Intelliresponse thinks so.

Why Do Customers Go To Social Media?

First things first, how does your company use social media? Is it just a medium to push out information about your brand, product releases, and such? Or are you taking an active role in engaging with customers -- getting to know them, asking questions and listening to their needs? If it’s the former, you may have noticed that your fans go to social media to get your attention when things are less than ideal. In other words, it’s become the one channel where they know they can get you to listen and respond, or else risk bad press.

To be fair, if any of us follow a specific brand, it’s because we want something, be it a discount code, the inside scoop or a direct line to customer service. However, Lloyd points out, if your company is spending most of its time on social media solving problems, something is amiss. First, most of those customer service queries require one-on-one follow up, which takes time and costs money. Second, solving problems isn’t necessarily engaging.

Prepare for the Self-Service Economy

Social media provides an opportunity for brands to engage with their fans, followers and would-be customers. These customers are savvy and know what they want, which is why they’re on social media, following your brand to begin with. When they come to you with problems, it’s usually because they haven’t been able to find the information themselves through your other online channels, like your website. If you can improve how customers find information online, perhaps they’ll stop using social media as a customer service channel.

At Intelliresponse, its virtual agent technology solutions help automate the process of delivering answers to customer questions posed across a variety of interaction channels. What does that mean? It means that your customers have answers, and companies have the answers, but just not in the right place.

Think about it -- when was the last time you looked at the types of keywords typed into your website’s search bar? Or when was the last time you waded through your website’s content to ensure that information featured actually reflects your customers’ top priorities? And how often do you feed information based on the questions customers asked online to those within your company who can benefit from it the most -- like those in R&D or sales and marketing?

That’s what I thought.

Intelliresponse knows this, so it acts as a 24×7 online research agent, delivering real-time, actionable voice of the customer insights. By parsing natural language questions and matching these questions with a single correct answer, IntelliResponse virtual agents can be deployed on an organization’s website, social media presence, mobile platforms, in contact center environments or even via web enabled kiosks – wherever customers go for self-service answers.

Poor Customer Experience? Check Your Content

Lloyd says that the source of most social media problems can be traced back to poor content. Not only is content poorly delivered, it's unstructured. Companies don't lack for information, but they don't necessarily understand what they have and how it can help customers. 

According to Lloyd, delivering a great customer experience through a virtual agent isn't just helpful it's smart marketing. The search experience isn't necessarily customer friendly. Even those within the enterprise struggle to find the answers they need to work effectively. If you're able to help customers find what they're looking for and answer their questions the first time, they're going to enjoy visiting you more and will want to engage with you more. 

Grab a Bucket or Shovel?

Employing a virtual agent doesn't render your call center staff obsolete. Rather, it empowers them to do what humans do best -- tackle the complicated issues, ones that can't be easily solved by a virtual agent. However, because most companies get bogged down answering mundane questions, call center employees don't often have the time to investigate the more interesting claims. By streamlining which type of questions get answered, customer contact centers can allocate more time and staff to helping customers with more unique issues. As a result, human agents can feel more empowered and feel as if they're contributing more to the customer relationship. 

With VOICES, all customer interactions with the IntelliResponse Virtual Agent are captured and transformed into a collection of easy-to-digest actionable customer insights that can be accessed in real-time.

When customer service is concerned, many companies are more inclined to grab a shovel to dig themselves out of sticky situations that may get aired out in public. Lloyd says, solutions like Intelliresponse offer a bucket into which information can be organized more effectively.  This simple exchange of tools offers customer service representatives, community managers and web content managers an opportunity to engage customers more effectively than they do now. 

Image credit: Shutterstock / zzveillust