How Social Customer Support Brings Social Media Beyond Marketing

Is it really possible to provide tech support in 140 characters? Industry experts, including Dell, offer sound advice and proven techniques to help you move beyond marketing blasts to provide social customer support.

By Vangie Beal
Wed, May 16, 2012
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Dell is another company that started on its path to being a social business more than six years ago. Back then, Dell typically tracked around 4,000 comments a day about the company on the social Web, mainly in forums and discussion boards.

Fast-forward to today—there are more than 25,000 comments a day about Dell in the social Web, and the company is answering customers and providing tech support on a number of different social platforms.

Social Companies Need Social Agents

Companies need to plan and strategize social customer support on both sides of the firewall—internal process and policies and external customer experience goals.

Inside the firewall, Dell's social strategy starts with a core team that is responsible for training, governance and social platform testing. This group of more than 3,500 Dell certified social media and community professionals also engages with customers via social media.

There is also a dedicated social team at Dell providing customer and technical support resolution via social. The team, Dell Social Outreach Services (SOS), was formed more than two years ago, mainly because of the increase in conversations related specifically to "Dell support" that were taking place. The social support team, approximately 80 strong, serves customers globally in 11 languages.

"The core of what we do is listen to conversations where customers indicate a need for technical help from Dell and we engage in those conversations and offer support," said Jason Duty, Dell's SOS team director. "The Dell Social Outreach team will see those cases through to resolution."

DellCares Twitter Support
@DellCares on Twitter solves tech support issues in 140 characters or less.

There may be complex cases or a request for a phone call from a customer, but Dell agents also converse with customers in many ways—they troubleshoot issues in 140 characters in Twitter and answer a customer's question on Facebook, in the Dell Forums, on Google+ and a few third-party discussion forums as well. The goal is to stay engaged and provide a resolution in the same channel the customer initially used.

How the Social Customer Support Process Works

One key factor any business needs to look at is how to effectively listen, engage and measure a social customer support strategy.

"You can't just measure effectiveness by how many tweets or Facebook posts you're putting out to the world," Cleveland says. "You have to have a qualitative handle on reaching those who have the most influence and getting the right kind of information out there."

Dell's Social Outreach Services provides support for 2,000 to 3,000 customers per week via social and, according to Duty, achieves a social resolution rate of 97 to 98 percent. Internally, the customer support resolution process is just like any contact center process, only agents are using social listening and engagement tools.

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