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Five social customer service trends you need to know about [For Marketers]

Five social customer service trends you need to know about

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We recently lined up 18 statistics which took the social customer care temperature as we head into the second half of the year.  To give you a better understanding of some of the key developments underpinning these numbers, we’ve taken a deeper dive into five trends which we see as the influential shapeshifters, priorities and challenges ahead.  Here goes …

#1 Social media teams and technology are converging

Businesses are changing the way they organise internally around social engagement.  Marketing teams used to be the headline act when it came to social media.  They held the social purse strings and strategies were aligned around what they wanted to say.  The social contract put the onus on the customer to listen.  How things have changed.  The contract has been torn up and the onus is on brands to listen – together as a business – to understand and respond to what customers experience along the way.

When it comes to frontline support, marketing campaigns are only effective if customer service teams are prepared to answer questions and comments about the campaign.  Organisations working towards a collaborative approach are investing in one suite of tools which can be tailored to serve multiple use cases for engagement:  listening, routing, prioritisation, response, crisis management, performance management, analytics, reporting and CRM.  Customer care teams also need to share budget with marketing and other key stakeholders to drive economies of scale.  This will also help to stop the silo mentality resurfacing if different departments continue to use different tools and social data is skewed by incompatible listening methodologies, objectives and outcomes.  To foster closer collaboration, regular cross-departmental meetings need to be scheduled to share feedback, insight and ideas.

Where are we at?

The number of businesses which work collaboratively and those which still work in silos are now evenly split.  Participants in a recent webinar we held in partnership with Netcall told us:

  1. 42% were collaborative

  2. 42% were siloed

  3. 8% were competitive

  4. 8% other

#2 Seeing the bigger picture

This really ties in with the trend for closer collaboration.  Customer experience is the new wealth and businesses can no longer trade on price advantage alone.  However, most organisations can’t see the bigger picture and don’t analyse social data to understand what customers go through.  It’s always better to understand why consumers choose your brand than hedge your bets on simply asking them to.  You also need to find out why they abandon purchasing decisions or want to jump ship.  But, the reality is data-driven insight on social customers is still elusive and brands are missing unfettered feedback.  Operationally, businesses which do not measure social activity are not accurately monitoring how support teams perform, consolidating internal processes to best serve customers, nor working out how to use channels to resolve increasingly complex queries.

Where are we at?

Research from Incite Group found that 64% of brands are not accurately measuring the impact of their social activities.

#3 Hello, is there anybody out there?

Improving response times is a top priority for those brands which need to close the chasm between what customers look for and what they are able to provide.  We’re going back to basics here.  Consumers don’t just talk to one brand on social channels and they shine a light to those which are quick and efficient in getting back to them, putting businesses which are ignoring comments, or slow on response times in the shade.  Organising workflow and simplifying agent inboxes will go a long way in fixing this for businesses struggling to keep up.  One of the biggest routes to failure is not investing in engagement technology which can scan, filter, route and prioritise mentions to make it easier for social media teams to get back to each and every customer that needs a response.

Where are we at?

Just how wide is the chasm?  Dimension Data research found that the average social media response time is 78 minutes.  While a study from BT and Avaya found that 70% of consumers expect a response on social media within 15 minutes.  When it comes to answering the people who are complaining the problem is acute.  Jay Baer’s research in partnership with Edison showed that just 32% of social media complainers are satisfied with businesses’ response times.

#4 Messaging apps and chat bots

Consumers are increasingly looking to one-to-one private conversations when they need support and demand for chat apps is pushing the customer frontier.  These apps could change the way mobile customers connect with brands altogether.  It’s possible that consumers will get app fatigue and replace brand apps with an easy option like Facebook Messenger to connect with businesses at all points of their journey and simply pick up threaded conversations again when they need assistance.  Messaging apps could even replace live chat as customers see them as a quicker solution to waiting around on websites for support to get back them.  These apps are an always-on connection and brands could lose engagement with customers that start to leave websites when they want to connect.

Just how popular are they?

Messaging apps are outpacing social networks when it comes to monthly active users (millions):

  1. Messaging apps 3,500

  2. Social networks 2,500

Channel choice:

  1. Mobile apps are a top three choice for customer service for under 55s

  2. Social media is the number one choice for customer service under 25s

When it comes to supporting customers on these platforms, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Line et al need to be integrated into the engagement apps that agents already use to provide a consistent service, making sure you can offer customers the best engagement experience from a single point of access.

What about chat bots?

Chat bots are a potential game changer.  Facebook, for example, has upped the ante on this by letting businesses drop chat bots into Messenger.  Other platforms will follow suit.  Using bots will help reduce agent-assisted interactions but the outcome as always depends on the quality of the AI brands deploy.  Companies will need to work out the right balance between bots and real people to effectively support customers to avoid re-igniting frustrations about automated services.  Businesses will probably only use AI for simple enquiries and FAQs.  In most cases bots will start a conversation and then agents will take over to do the heavy lifting.

Where are we at?

Research from Mobile Ecosystem Forum and Mblox found that 65% of customers now talk to businesses via chat apps.  Financial services customers are the most active users at 22%.  Retail and e-Commerce customers come next at 16%.  There is an untapped opportunity here as the study also found that 35% of chat app users are currently unengaged.

#5 Customer patience is running out

Customers who find interacting with a brand easy improves trust.  If a consumer trusts that contacting a business is easy, they won’t necessarily turn to competitors.   If people want to use social channels and support is slow or a hassle, or they feel like they are being ignored, they are likely to just give up and go elsewhere quicker than they can type #poorservice.  55% of consumers have intended to make a purchase, but didn’t due to bad service.  We’re going full circle here.  Customer experience is the new capital and making social customer care easy is a wealth creator.

Where are we at?

Research by tyntec found that 80% of consumers view getting through to an agent quickly as the number one priority for customer service.

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This article was contributed by Sentiment Metrics.

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