3 Components of Best-in-Class Social Support

October 28, 2016 Terry Arnold

Social media has become one of the BIG THREE customer service channels—especially in B2C—joining phone and email to form the triad of support modalities. But customers have high expectations, and there aren’t many companies meeting them.

Market Reality – Emerging Expectations

What are the emerging expectations from customers seeking support through social channels? You need to be fast and always on.

Jay Baer says his social research indicates that rapid reaction from a brand is becoming the norm.

  • 32% of customers who have contacted a brand on social media expect a response within 30 minutes.
  • An additional 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.
  • 57% of respondents expect the same response time at night on the weekends as during normal business hours.

Market Reality – Falling Short

The reality is, most companies just aren’t meeting these consumer expectations. According to the State of Customer Service Experience 2015:

  • 33% of consumers who contact a brand on social media never get a response.
  • Of all channels, social media has the lowest percentage of issue resolution and follow-up, with only 13% and 9%, respectively.
  • 63% of consumers have to engage with a brand two or more times on social media before a customer service inquiry or issue is resolved.
  • Despite the immediacy of social media, only 13% of consumers get a response within minutes.
  • 26% of consumers turn to social media when they can’t reach a rep through another channel—the highest of all reasons—indicating that many use social as a last resort.

Organizations have been quick to socially visible, yet have struggled to build a support structure to understand and respond to customer expectations; equip themselves with the tools, resources and training to enhance the customer experience in social support interactions; delineate between marketing coverage and customer care and support; and utilize data to better inform and optimize the customer support experience.

3 Components of Best-in-Class Social Support

There are three best practices to ensure customer satisfaction and achieve success with a social customer support program.

1. Immediate Response

To meet consumer expectations of response and resolution within a very short time frame, a social support should include the following:

  • Active listening for specific, actionable support issues requiring immediate identification and resolution
  • Workforce management practices to ensure adequate staffing during periods of peak response volumes
  • Timeliness metrics to assure issues are identified and addressed in a timely manner
  • Customer satisfaction measurement on all support issues to continually assess performance in relation to meeting customer expectations

2. Social Support Issue Data Analysis

Data plays a crucial role in defining and solving customer complaints. A successful program will aggregate support issue data to assist with identification of new and emerging issues. Once resolutions have been determined for those issues, (reliable, confirmed fixes), best practice is to use that data to create resolution-related content pieces to be proactively shared and promoted on customer forums and other watering holes. Customers can then find this content before experiencing the problem or before contacting support to solve the problem. The organization should also add the solutions to the enterprise knowledge base, as well as new and recurrent agent training modules.

3. Customer Persona and Journey Mapping

Speaking of data, a successful social support program will also use aggregated support data to create a customer “Care Persona.” This persona considers the various means of resolution customers pursue to “self-serve” their issues and addresses the tools they use in that process.  It seeks to assure those who choose to “self-serve” have the tools they need to achieve success on their own without intervention. The Care Personas also identify where in the customer journey customers are experiencing challenges and categorizes customers based upon their attempted resolution behavior.

Accurate, data-based Care Personas help organizations to better enable support personnel by assisting them in recognizing customer issues and equipping them with resources to more quickly and effectively solve those issues. They also enable the organization to build fixes into the support system to aid in the speed at which agents can respond.

Improve Customer Experience AND Reduce Support Costs

While this type of approach clearly addresses issues related to providing a better, more balanced customer care and support structure, it also has a significant impact on reducing support costs. Support issues often arise in the social sphere ahead of traditional mediums (phone, email, chat, etc.). As a result of this “early warning,” we have the opportunity to update the customer facing knowledgebase and create training content for our call center agents. This means we are better prepared to manage support tickets for these issues and can solve social inquiries before they reach the phone lines.

For example, one consumer electronics manufacturer noticed that, for each of the respondents whose issues we have resolved through social channels, 70.4% indicated that their next course of action was to reach out to the contact center if their issues wasn’t resolved. By resolving these customer issues on-line we are able significantly reduce costly on-phone handle times and drive down overall support costs.

All in all, social support isn’t going away. If you haven’t already, it’s time to integrate it as an integral part of your support strategy and allocate resources appropriately. You’ll not only reap the rewards of satisfying your customers (that demand an always-on social presence), but you’ll also reduce costs associated with more expensive support channels.

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