Almost 50% of customers seek assistance via social media channels? No shock there. It’s probably lower in B2B spheres. Much higher among students and consumers.
Our social service crews cater to vast and diverse constituencies including enterprises (B2B), SMBs, Students, and consumers. So not unlike Autodesk as a global business bellwether company, our social services also taps into various swaths of social populations and behaviors. And we draw appropriate lessons - and experience - from addressing such varied market segments.
Frequency of social service requests is an interesting figure. Does it mean you have significant product or service issues? Or does it mean you’ve done a really good jobs building a “humanized” conversational front-end to your brand? Or all of the above?
We do get a small set of rather frequent “engagers” on Twitter. We don’t see this on other channels as much. The most persistent ones are either professionals or students. Bless their hearts - we’ve actually made real “friends” in both communities. And truth be told, some portions of our online engagements are indeed purely conversational. Sometimes even emotional. I like that.
Response “effectiveness” has been a real focus point for us because we realize that “engagement velocity” alone is not enough. It’s nice to acknowledge customers within minutes of a problem. But it’s even nicer to actually resolve their issue and “close” the deal, as we used to say in sales.
And in social service, there are a lot of deal makers but few “closers”. This is likely why people rate social service as “ineffective” - a placebo of sorts. In the “old days” customer service would close cases from an internal perspective. In other words, a support rep would decide that the case was resolved and close it. Pretty normal since auditing usually revolves around case closure rates (a questionable metric if you ask me).
But I find that approach less than ideal in social support. Why? Because on social channels it’s easy to get a “confirmed hit” by asking the customer straight-up in real time. So not doing so is lazy at best, IMO. Why assume when you can be sure?
It’s true that doing it outside-in affects deflection metrics - you “deflect” less cases because people don’t always get back to you - or they “hit and run” with a question, and you never know what the outcome was. But intellectually, I feel better using “resolved” if, and only if, the customer confirmed it was or inferred resolution is unambiguous to any reasonable observer.
I’m convinced this approach greatly improves overall customer experience (instant response time or not) and corresponding NPS scores. I also know it makes “deflection” scores look worse internally - at least initially - but we should be in this business to improve customer experience. Not beef up pretty internal dashboards. Social service is a tough gig. It punishes shortcuts.
Stay social my friends :)
I keep saying one of the next big social frontiers is about “private” social networks - stuff like this, that, or the other (Hyperweek is a really cool customizable social network created by my buddy Raphael Briner) for example.
I’m talking about “Facebookized” social networks within a specific context. Say like Marketing, Sales, PR, HR, Support - and maybe even all combined into one big “mothership” network.
In other words, if Facebook is the social graph, Twitter is the interest graph, Pinterest is the shopping graph (ouch). Well, what’s your graph baby?
Here’s the kicker: these bespoke networks can’t be walled off. You need to figure out how to safely gate and regulate public entry (think customers). Then, if you make a physical product, figure out how to connect it as well. Now the whole enterprise, its customers, and its products are connected internally and externally. Nifty! - Can you spell s-c-a-l-e?
Whoever figures this out first wins. Yes, I know about Yammer and Chatter. Blah.
Scalability, shcalability! I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept lately. Especially when applied to customer care. Why? Because every so often I encounter a support feature and think to myself “Wow! Now that’s a really cool idea!
But then right after that, the little voice of “business reason” goes “right, but come on, you can’t scale this to millions of customers!” - but perhaps this is the wrong way to look at this. Totally wrong.
Because one doesn’t always deal with “millions of customers” at once. Matter of fact, chances are at any one time you’re only dealing with (hopefully) a tiny chunk of your customer base. And given that, chances are it’s possible to offer “personalized” one-one service after all. We know that’s where the NPS gold sits.
Tying this in to social media. Where personally influencing a small core of folks becomes way more important than trying to be “everything” to a mass market audiences - those days are long gone. How many loving fans would you create by offering something like the services above? How many friends would they tell?
What if you let them email support reps or community managers directly? How about product managers? Heck. if I can get an instant chat with screen share for support from any company, they’ve converted me for ever. No questions asked.
This whole scalability thing is probably scarier than it should be. One-on-one contact can be golden when shareable. You can’t do that with 10,000,000 customers at the same time for sure. But you can do it with small carefully selected groups.
Because it’s doing it often enough with the right subset at the right time that matters. Let your community worry about scaling. Let them do the leg work. Just focus on wowing customers one at a time. Don’t worry so much about scaling stuff.
I felt a lot of borderline nonsense in the #socialmedia force last week. For starters, this article here. Admittedly, Doron makes a lot of good points but I have to hold up a hand on #1 and say “check please!”
Because firing customer service reps is not an intelligent cost-saving measure. Hiring the right people, in the right numbers, with the right training is a better approach in my experience. Support folks aren’t some commodity you can trade like soy beans. Yes a large proportion of incoming support questions are repetitive. That’s because your processes and policies are flawed. So fix them, and then you don’t have to deal with repetitive crap year in year out. Neither do your customers!
And “artificial intelligence” is a great concept. Been hearing about it for 25 years. But I have yet to meet signs of active intelligence in 99.99% of the software I see out there. For English press one. For Spanish press two. Get real.
Next, there’s been a lot of noise lately from a recent Altimeter report as echoed here (and a dozen other sites). They surveyed a bunch of companies. And it turns out 67% of them feel that “social media is a significant or critical risk to their brand reputation”. Well DUH.
If you hire the wrong people, nickel and dime budgets, start off with no strategy and no ROI goals, no vision, no crisis plan, and no internal culture needed to support social media programs, well yeah, you’re taking a significant risk I’d say.
So hint: don’t do any of that and you’ll be just fine. Because not engaging customers via social means assured irrelevance soon. And that’s a risk 100% of companies must fear today.
Okay. I feel much better now ;) May the Force be with you!
July 14th is an important date for many people in the world. Most of which happen to live in France or have any sort of affinity with French history. I’m talking about Bastille Day of course.
For me, July 14th has a different meaning. Because it’s the anniversary of the date I started at Autodesk exactly one year ago. If you’d told me back then I’d have the opportunity to help lead and execute social media efforts for a $7B company’s global customer service division, I would have said “You’re dreaming buddy. Have another glass of Beaujolais and party on” J
I learned a lot this past year about doing large-scale social support within a very large, complex, and evolving corporate environment. Here are some key takeaways for me.
Speak softly and carry a big stick. The most critical part of the job is being able to connect internally across business groups and build consensus. In order to do this, you need to communicate all the time, inform, re-assure, network, and spend considerable amounts of time negotiating. That’s the “speak softly” part. Nothing gets done in vacuums or silos. Speaking of which:
You also need high-level executive support - or “air-cover”. That’s the “big stick” part. It’s not a get-out-of-jail free card, but without it, you get no budget, you get no inside intelligence, and you don’t (always) get quick attention. And then, social media steps on a lot of corporate toes. Without a direct red line to the top, next thing you know, you got no toes left. Especially if you’re new to the organization.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! Training for high-engagement social media crews is challenging at best, yet key to success. This includes post-training activities like monitoring, adjusting, coaching. If you do it right - and hire the right pilots - eventually it’s like flying a 747 on autopilot. It sort of runs itself. You just need to make a few trimming adjustments every so often. Bonus hint: let experienced agents train their peers to pollinate knowledge. Peer-to-peer training (with guidance) is more motivating and efficient than formal or outsourced training programs in my opinion.
Take the operating model. Leave the tools – not the cannoli. If you have a solid, repeatable and proven engagement model and methodology, it doesn’t really matter what tools and platforms you use. Within reason. This is convenient because there is no single holistic social support platform out there. Just bits and pieces left and right. The market’s a mess right now. Things will improve but meanwhile, if you struggle at length with tools, you will waste too much time (not to mention patience). Focus instead on the global approach and information routing/response model. Tools come and go. Solid methodologies stay.
So much has been written and said over social metrics that it’s really hard to add anything meaningful. So let me take it from the execution side: First, read Olivier Blanchard’s book. Then, make friends with the analytics folks. Involve them. Give them credit. Help them help you. Then hire the best ones into your social team whenever possible – Okay just kidding J
Doing all of the above won’t guarantee success (nothing does in this business) but it will probably maximize your chances. In many ways, none of what I say is new under the sun. My personal experience just confirms what I’ve read from the experts. And so:
Last but not least, read two books - if nothing else: Christopher Barger’s The Social Media Strategist, and Frank Eliason’s @YourService. It’s pretty much all you need to know about running social media in a very large service enterprise. Of course, doing it in person is a whole different ballgame :)
The first one on page 2 (Exhibit 3) tells me that customer satisfaction is the least impacted benefit since 2009 (3 point delta). No good. However that’s just a hair under “Reducing marketing costs” - these tell me that (1) most still haven’t figured out how to use this social stuff to make customers happier and (2) we’re still underestimating the costs of doing social.
The second one on page 5 (Exhibit 7) is a little more shocking to me. Why? As the report notes:
“…the greatest number say their companies use these tools to scan the external environment for new ideas”
Which tells me that innovation is not coming from internal resources! If companies are scanning outwardly for new ideas, they’re not tapping their own people. Or their own people have no innovative ideas - which I find unlikely. Or maybe companies are also tapping internally, but clearly not using social media technologies to do so. I find that disturbing.