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Customer service on social media platforms: a UK benchmark study

A recent study conducted  at New York University for Conversocial, revealed that nearly 90% of consumers, if confronted with unanswered customer complaints on a company’s social media site, would be either somewhat less likely or far less likely to do business with that company in the future.

More in the slide deck below:

Social analytics
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The new digital divide: consumer expectations vs brands activities in social media

A study (.pdf) from the CMO Council of 1,300 consumers and 132 senior marketers revealed a profound difference between what consumers want from brands in social media, and what marketers think they want.

The bottom line?

[...] consumers want more — more experiences, more engagement, more rewards, and more reasons to connect with each other and brands through social media. And brands are missing the boat. They see the benefits of reaching out to customers through social channels, but they aren’t yet fully invested.

The report sees 4 ways to narrow that gap:

  1. Enable peer-to-peer interactions. 9% of brands think their Facebook fans want to connect with each other. 60% of consumers say they like brands on Facebook in order to connect with other brands. Your consumers want to talk to each other. Make it easy for them - open a forum, put Q&A on your Facebook page, launch a customer community.
  2. Get serious about social support. 63% of consumers search online for others with similar problems when they need help - 19% of brands think that's the case. 47% of consumers expect a response to an online service request in 1 hr - 30% of brands use social media to improve service and responsiveness. 50% of consumers expect to find service and support on Facebook - 10% of brands provide it. Consumers want to help and get help from other customers and they do a bang up job of it. It costs between $6 and $75 to resolve customer issues over the phone. It costs as as little as $.05 to help customers find answers online. Social support is a no-brainer for 2012.
  3. Ideate with social customers. 41% of social customers expect to share product ideas on Facebook. 9% of brands ask customers to help them innovate on Facebook. With few brands actively asking fans for feedback and ideas, smart marketers can leap ahead in 2012 by running idea exchanges - and you'll get a real-time, always on focus group that will drive better, faster innovation for the brand.
  4. Gamify the social experience. 67% of consumers expect special treatment when they like a brand on Facebook. 7% of brands reward their most active contributors. 46% of consumers expect incentives and rewards when they connect with brands online. 7% of brands offer social customer incentives and rewards. Give social customers something to work for, a reason to level up. Reward them for their contributions, give them rank and reputation, let them take it with them as the move about the social web.

Social CRM: not just for Customer Relations department

Traditional CRM is based around information that companies could collect on their customers and then input into a CRM system that allows them to better target various customers.

Social CRM is a philosophy and business strategy designed to engage the customer in a mutually beneficial relationship. It's supported by social technology, business rules, workflow and processes.

Social CRM's key changes:

  1. CR Department
    In most organisations today, the Customer Relations department will play a bigger role by taking charge of the brand's social presence, while handling customer engagement online.
  2. Advocacy and Experience
    Rather than sending passive messages to customers, incorporate them into the system as advocates. Now, there is collaboration amongst both parties to solve business problems.

More where this came from:


Every 13 minutes someone is twittering, blogging about @Telenet

Telenet is a major provider of analogue and digital television, Internet and telephone services in Belgium. One of their mottos is "‘Follow the customer, not the cable"’. So how did they roll out their customer service over social media?

Early 2010, the official Twitter account @Telenet was launched, tweeting news and info about their products. Tweets ending in the characters ^CH come from Charlotte, Telenet’s virtual Webcare agent. A team of four knowledge employees are operating behind that pseudonym.

To give you an idea,  every 13 minutes someone is twittering, blogging, ... about Telenet.

More where this came from:

Social Media in 2010. Keep talking! @ blog.telenet.be

For my upcoming book on social media for businesses, I interviewed Telenet Knowledge Manager Leentje Chavatte. About Project Charlotte:

‘We scan social media to see what people are saying about Telenet. If a problem escalates, we immediately inform the right people. Recently, a number of e-mails were not delivered. We found out about the problem onlineon-line and discussed it immediately with our colleagues. Then we informed everybody about the problem and the potential solutions.’

The next step is for Telenet to respond via Charlotte or in some other way. The knowledge team is armed with standard answers to some frequently asked questions. There are basic rules, like be polite, listen to the customer and help him or her as quickly as possible. Chavatte:

The quality of the answers has to be good, which is why we have a small team. We mustn't allow ourselves to get carried away emotionally if a customer begins swearing or is rude in some other way. We don't respond at all to some things, simply because they lead to an endless yes-no discussion.

If doubt exists about the answer, the knowledge team first discusses the problem with Communications.

We maintain close contacts with other departments like Communications, Marketing and Sales. We make sure that the information they send out about results or product launches is sent out simultaneously to customers. The knowledge team receives help from everybody within the company. An employee who sees comments published onlineon-line can inform Charlotte by means of a web tool. We keep a watch on what words customers use in messages about our company, says Chavatte. When we launch a product, we look at signs like the emotions or words in the comments.

How do customers react to Charlotte?

Telenet customers appreciate our dealing with them personally. It's an approach entirely different to the traditional channels of communication. We’re not active in social media because it happens to be fashionable today. For us it’s an excellent means for supporting existing processes; it’s not a communication channel in itself”’, says the knowledge manager. Thanks to the company’s efforts, a lot of messages about Telenet are positive, although something can obviously go amiss at any time. “‘If something isn't working, you immediately notice a small peak of negative comments. Customers are very strict with a brand that makes a mistake, but if you build up good relationships with them, you will see that other customers spontaneously stick up for you if something does goes wrong.


Steven Van Belleghem: companies lie when they say they care about their clients

In his most recent presentation, "The Conversation Manager" author Steven Van Belleghem sees a paradox in the way companies talk and behave:

* Companies think word-of-mouth is important, but they don’t manage it
* Every customer is important, but giving them good service is seen as a cost
* Every client is important, but 1000 clients on Facebook are not relevant