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Friday, 2 March 2012

Being a social business and customer service challenges

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Being a social business and customer service challenges
by clairekav on 09-02-2012 19:38 - last edited on 10-02-2012 10:39

With an increasing number of ways to connect to friends and share information, businesses are trying to keep up with changing customer service expectations and finding ways to hold their customers attention, keep them up to date and help them out if needed.

Increasing use of social channels such as Facebook and twitter has changed the way customers interact with their service providers. Seeking a path of least resistance – no longer are people willing to wait at the end of the phone waiting for a customer service agent to pick up or searching through hundreds of pages of no so “Frequently asked questions”. Headstream are collecting nominations for their Top 100 Social Brands report, (last year we placed #4) which got me thinking about how things have changed over the past year and of some of the challenges, we as a Social Brand are facing (some new, some old).

We’ve got some exciting changes coming up this year which will help improve member experience across all these different social channels – but I thought it might be interesting to pop a few of the things we’re trying to tackle/improve this year:

Some challenges with being a social business:

- Creating Fans and followers: With social channels increasingly being used for customer service, it is at times difficult to make space for content (ie a video, link to something interesting) which makes it more interesting for people to follow you/ become a fan of your Facebook/Twitter site etc.

Invariably any content you post will be commented on with a service query. The challenge is how do you make things interesting for your followers while balancing answering member questions.

- Multiple views of a single customer: People aren’t always easily identifiable when they pop up in different channels - you don’t always identify yourself as the same person – with different “Ids” across all the social channels you interact with (ie you might be John Smith on Facebook, @Smithy on twitter and JSmith on the giffgaff Community) it is difficult to work out you’re the same person.

It is possible with things like Facebook / twitter connect to tie identities together if the email address is the same across all of the channels. However, typically businesses with older databases and data structures are struggling to match all these “personalities” to create a single view of the customer

-Changing expectations, faster and 24/7: We did a survey early 2010 where it said most were happy to receive a response to non urgent within the same working day, 10% within 10minutes (note to self, must resend the survey to measure changes), luckily questions asked within the community are answered on average within 70 seconds.

58% of consumers want companies to respond if they leave a comment on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter (2011 Customer Experience Impact Report by Harris Interactive). Plus younger people are increasingly turning to social channels as their first port of call (15% of 16-24 year olds according to, business need to scale up their support in these social channels to support their younger demographics.

Social channels “open” 24/7, typically customer service operations are not. Setting customer expectations about the level of service and response times is difficult. In the old days, you’d look up a business’s opening hours before calling, with social channels you don’t need the other end to ‘pick up’ so you can tweet/ post in the moment. The challenge is having resource/ mechanisms to provide response outside of opening hours/ setting the right expectations in an environment where customers are becoming increasingly impatient.

- Different strokes for different folks: A recent survey of our members you told us that you would like information - 56% said from our community, 33% Facebook and 11% via Twitter.

It is a challenge to deliver interesting content and support across different channels which is consistent to our brand and fit for the channel – Twitter’s limitation of 140 characters makes for some crafty copy writing challenges, additionally the demographic and the interests of those following us on twitter can be slightly different to those that are fans within Facebook – which boils down to you can’t please 100% of people 100% of the time.

- Minimising costs: giffgaff is all about keeping its costs down. The most cost efficient way to support a customer is via the community where hundreds of members are ready to answer their query. However, as per the above, some people prefer to use a channel that they’re already familiar with – twitter, Facebook etc.

We’ve got some clever Community integration which means if someone asks a question within Facebook Help and twitter – it can be turned in to a question within the community. We’ve got some very handy members who help direct members needing assistance from our Facebook wall to the community as well.

The fastest way to help is searching the Community / Help section – there aren’t too many questions that haven’t been asked already.

If you can’t find an answer there – you can pose it to the community Community Help > don’t be shy, our members are really friendly and amazingly there 24/7 Facebook Need Help > if you’re in facebook, you can post a question under Facebook Need Help (see our > Left hand side “Need Help”), this will pop your question in to the community (note, the fastest way to help is posting under “Need help” not on the fan page wall) Twitter stream > within the community, you can see on the Righthand side ”twitter stream” picks up mentions of giffgaff – members are then able to answer these tweets and turn the tweet in to a post directing them to where members are answering their questions.

A few challenges which I certainly see as opportunities this year to find solutions for and make improvements. It’s an exciting time to be in Customer Experience Management and sitting within giffgaff where we are constantly challenged to do things a little differently – watch this space for some exciting customer service improvements and content throughout the year.

Our social channels if you fancy following us: Google+
LinkedIn: giffgaff group

Oh, nearly forgot - to nominate a brand you love for this years "Social Brand 100", simply tweet a message to @SocialBrands100 using #SB100

Cheers, Claire

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