"The customer is always right" may have been a perfectly good slogan for a world of linear, one-dimensional sales and support channels. But as customer service increasingly takes place over social media channels, an updated version may be "the customer and the customer's preferred time and channel of engagement are always right."
The new slogan is verbose, but the essential point remains. Companies must keep their customer service game strong if they hope to retain customers and drive growth.
To provide authentic, human service in a digital, mobile medium, with the efficiency of text—nothing beats social media. It's where your customers are being human, and it's where your brand can be human, too. After all, some 64% of consumers prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel when given the choice, according to One Reach Contact Center.
Major social networks today provide real-time messaging, which offers the efficiency and point-of-sale opportunities of chat with a much better user experience than traditional Web chat on mobile.
But social is also asynchronous, and persistent, allowing conversations to continue over time and to travel across devices. A conversation can start with a real-time chat within Facebook on a desktop then continue later on Facebook Messenger when the customer is just on his or her phone. And all this time, the customer's real identity is layered on top.
The Rise of the Social Customer
With all of this in play, it shouldn't be a surprise that Twitter reports that the number of service-requesting tweets directed at brands grew by almost 3X in the last two years. Other recent indicators show that customers are deferring to social channels to find resolution.
Moreover, even when customers do call in for support, they almost always do so from a mobile phone, where social channels are the dominant form of communication and the primary location for user engagement. So, the easy switch to using social and messaging apps is the next logical step.
For this reason, organizations, companies, and brands of all types must incorporate future-oriented social customer care technology—and more importantly, awareness of the expectations of a new generation of consumers—into their business strategies.
More Than Just a Technological Revolution
That said, it's almost too easy to view the social media revolution—and resulting changes in customer experience—in simply technological terms. After all, it would not exist but for the technological innovations that enabled it.
It's also tempting for companies seeking to adapt their customer service and contact center strategies to this new channel to implement a solution that simply gives agents access to social media, connect it to their CRMs, and call it a day.
However, social media is far more than just a popular technology; it enables and facilitates relationships on a massive scale and accelerates social interaction.
You need to have real agents who you empower to be flexible, authentic, and able to resolve real issues in-channel rather than deflect them to other channels. (First-contact-resolution is one of the biggest determinants of a great service experience.) These new agents also need to be trained in social media and in resolving issues publicly. In fact, they're no longer just agents—they're brand advocates who are the face of your company with every engagement they have.
That shift from response to resolution and from interaction to delight also shows itself in one of the most familiar customer service metrics: CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score).
Brands used to measure their standings according to CSAT—but that barometer is just not good enough in the wake of social-based customer care.
Instead, VSAT (Very Satisfied) is the new standard. Anything less is not just unacceptable, it's a liability. In fact, a recent study found that 66% of global consumers stopped doing business with a provider and switched to another in the past year due to a poor customer service experience—that figure having gone up 17% since 2005, according to Accenture.
The Power of Share
Consumers today are also highly likely to share their experiences with brand representatives on social media. History has shown that such shares can make or break a company.
The social customer care teams need to be trained to approach customers differently, in synchronization with the entire enterprise. Instead of just asking and responding to questions with resolution being the end goal, social care team members need to be tailoring the whole customer experience to make sure they are thinking more about the brand.
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Today's consumers are experiencing your brand through its social media representation. Every contact with an individual customer has the potential to addressing the entire market. No other channel has ever had such reach, nor has any other channel been so potential dangerous and beneficial at the same time.
A prompt, friendly, real-talk, productive experience (even just one) will delight your customers and ripple out to the greater community. A sloppy, negative, manufactured experience will have the opposite effect. Brands today have the power to choose which one to provide.