4 Tips for Proactive Social Customer Care

This blog was posted by a member of our CCMA Social Media User Group, Rosie Clancy from 11890.    Rosie provides four practical tips to help organisations ensure that they are being proactive in Social Customer Care.

75% of social media customer service conversations are not directed to brand managed channels. 40% of conversations occur between 6pm and 9am. Is out of sight out of mind? Today's social consumers are engaged and connected at all times of the day and night.  What was previously the concern of global brands that operate across multiple time-zones is now being drawn closer to home.  At Cloud90, we have seen over three consecutive months that 40% of social media conversations in Ireland are happening between 6pm and 9am. Interestingly, this is not only for retail or consumer brands as the split of our clients is 56% Business-to-Consumer and 44% Business-to-Business organisations. We have seen that the benefits of 24/7 social media monitoring are most applicable to the area of social media customer care. Reactive vs Pro-active Customer Care Reactive customer care, dealing with direct mentions in an immediate fashion, can position the brand as helpful and attentive.  According to a recent blog from Social Bakers social media customer service response rates are up 143% year-on-year, as more customers take to social media for a prompt response.  In the second quarter of 2012 30% of questions were answered on social media; in the second quarter of this year brands answered 62% of questions.  This fast paced growth is a challenge for brands and internal teams, especially at a time when resources are limited.  This is where the contact centre industry has shown agility in moving to meet the needs of the socially connected consumer in providing an outsourced solution for brands. To get the full benefits of social media customer service, such as saving the human and financial resources associated with traditional customer service, a brand should consider proactive customer service.  By proactive I mean reaching out and offering help, an answer, a suggestion, support or just acknowledgement of a customer's queries in social media.  Outreach can build trust and loyalty for the brand, transforming brand communications and customer service interactions into more memorable experiences that are more likely to foster positive word of mouth online.  By providing customers with real-time relevant responses they may be more likely to convert or are often very pleasantly surprised that their issue has been acknowledged by the brand. At Cloud90, we have seen that just 25% of customer service issues are directed or aired on the brands managed channels e.g. @ mentions on Twitter.  The other 75% are happening outside of your view, but we all know that out of sight is not out of mind. Here are my suggestions for bridging the gap between reactive and proactive social customer care: 4 Tips for Proactive Customer Care 1. Do Your Homework As the old adage goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail.  By doing your homework on classifying the types of customer service issues that are commonly dealt with on your direct channels you will identify the types of conversations you are most prepared to engage in outside of your direct mentions.  The low hanging fruit, as it were. 2. Listen to the Wider Industry Listen to indirect brand mentions and wider industry conversations.  Compare these topics of conversations to the most common issues that are resolved via your direct channels.  How do they compare?  Are there more complex issues been discussed in the ether?  Are there questions you could readily respond to? 3. Plot Volume Trends 40% of social media conversations happen outside of normal business hours.  Is this statistic applicable to your industry?  I recommend charting volumes of mentions over time to identify if there is an obvious trend pattern of when your customers are online.  Will this require a change or addition to your social customer service team? How can you best manage this change? 4. Measure Before you dive in, put a measurement plan in place to track the effectiveness and impact of your proactive customer service.  Are customers reacting positively?  Is this impacting sentiment within your customer service reporting?  Are customers engaging with your efforts, are they clicking on links provided? Responding to problems as they present is becoming the default approach as companies recognise the benefit in reaching out to customers before a spark becomes a flame.  Proactive customer service, reaching out to customers and solving problems before the customer has to contact you, saves costs for the business, enhances the customer service experience and provides the brand with the opportunity to surprise and delight in social media. Image kindly provided by 11890