We already have multiple ways for customers to reach out to the customer service department in a company. Writing a letter, calling, and chatting on IM are all common today, but things are changing fast as we head into the omni-channel environment where every channel – including social media – has to be given equal importance.
But adding social media to the traditional channel mix has changed more than just adding an extra way to get in touch. If companies are monitoring what is being said about them and their products online and intervening in those discussions before a formal complaint is ever made then some differences are already obvious.
So now brands are going to customers before they ever get in touch in the traditional way.
Each situation will always be different. Each complaint will be unique. And anything an agent does to intervene will be visible to other members of the public, with the ability to freely share the discussion with others.
This is an important point to emphasise. Every friend of a complaining customer can see their complaint and your response when it takes place on a social channel.
Calls in a contact centre are regularly recorded and reviewed for training, but just imagine if every interaction between the customer and the agent are not only recorded, but also broadcast, with the ability for customers to share them with each other. This is exactly the situation if your agents are asked to start engaging with the public using a tool like Twitter.
It’s clear that this kind of engagement needs a good team – they must be capable of helping the customer in a way that the brand is proud of, because their every action will be on display.
Greater engagement means more skills. The agents not only need to take calls and follow a fairly set routine, referring to a supervisor if something goes wrong. They need to have excellent written and oral communication skills because the customer engagement is closer and more personal.
All of this creates a world of new opportunities for the customer service team to work alongside the sales and marketing experts. Any customer service failures can quickly become disasters as dissatisfied customers share the poor response, but equally any great help you give to your customers will be shared. Your own customers are now advertising what you do directly.
Social media means that customer service has been elevated to the forefront of the brand. Your relationship with the customer has always been important, but now it is not just important – it is critical for success.
Photo by BK licensed under Creative Commons