4 CRM Lessons Learned From 'The Great Social Customer Service Race'

A research project led by a CRM analyst reveals some serious issues with customer service practices from the nation's top brands. Essentially, when customers complain via Twitter, decision makers are not doing enough to guide the social CRM systems in a way that best serves their businesses. (Includes infographic.)

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Track Customer Service Requests Equally

No one would argue that all customer service requests should receive the same attention. Companies should, however, have a standard method for processing and tracking tickets.

One way your company can streamline social customer service is by integrating listening software with help desk ticketing programs. This will enable your team to process social media requests just like interactions over the phone, email or chat. This includes marking a ticket as open, resolved or waiting a response.

At one point during the race, we received two responses to the same tweet, one day apart. The first response seemed robotic, and the second didn't address the question.

social customer service race

If this question were treated as a help ticket, the first responder would have marked it resolved to prevent the duplicate response.

Some help desk software integrations, or stand-alone social customer service products, can re-route a Twitter message if an agent doesn't respond within a certain time. During the race, several responses came more than a day later. For many customers, this is equivalent to not responding at all.

Record Interactions by Customer

Three race participants and I tweeted the same brand as many as seven times during the four-week experiment. One of my goals was to see if any of the brands would identify us as active socializers and improve their response time. Not one of the 14 brands did.

Heather Strout, professional services director at Lithium Technologies, told me recently that customers active on Twitter are more likely to share a bad customer experience than their less active counterparts. So, it's to your advantage to identify those users who share on Twitter more regularly so you can nurture the relationship.

To do this, ensure your software records every Twitter interaction with your brand in the corresponding customer's profile. This allows the next responding agent to quickly see if that customer is a brand advocate or tweeted negatively in the past. Also, program socially integrated ticketing software to increase response priority if a user emerges as an active socializer.

The Technology Should Fit the Purpose

Surprisingly, the brands responded to only 14 percent of our tweets. But this wasn't a failure in technology as much as strategy. Many companies have long viewed social media as a marketing medium instead of (or in addition to) a customer service channel, despite 47 percent of social media users seeking care on Twitter and Facebook. Social media strategists should start with taking a hard look at their mission, then move to the technology.

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