September 19, 2012

3 Tips for Better Socialized Customer Service

In honor of Dreamforce kicking off today in San Francisco, I decided to share an article from Help Desk Software Advice Analyst Ashley Furness. She passed along this preview for a unique social customer service demonstration happening on the expo floor, plus shared a few socialized service best practices of her own. Take it away Ashley…

 

3 Tips for Better Socialized Customer Service

 A Salesforce.com executive told me recently that companies no longer have a choice of whether or not they want to provide customer service through social.

“I don’t think there’s any company out there that doesn’t need to be thinking about [customer service through social],” Fergus Griffin told me. He’s the company’s senior vice president of solutions marketing. “I guarantee your customers are already using the channel, and they’re probably already talking about your brand.”

That’s why this year at Dreamforce – a massive cloud computing event that draws more than 50,000 people annually – is focusing exclusively on social. The gathering features more than 750 sessions, but that’s not where you’ll find one of the most unique educational experiences.

In the middle of the expo floor, attendees will discover a huge “Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center” manned by eight veteran support agents. There, visitors can watch and learn as they field requests from fellow Dreamforce attendees. Large screens will show interactions in real time on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Chatter self-service social groups.

Griffin told me me onlookers should be able to glean social customer service best practices by watching the contact center in action. But as a helpful guide, he shared a few tips observers should take home with them.

Hashtag Common Questions

Hashtags allow customer service managers to instantly create a knowledge base for reoccurring topics and questions.

During this year’s event, Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center observers will like see agents hashtag common queries with things like #Dreamforcemaps, #Dreamforcefood or a more general tag like #Dreamforcehelp.

Then, if a Dreamforce visitor tweets, “Where’s the closest restaurant?” the agent could respond “@UserName check out everyone’s food recommendations by searching #Dreamforcefood!” When they search that hashtag, the visitor could scan through everyone’s suggestions. This saves the agent time, while still providing a helpful personal response.

Prioritize Thoughtfully

One of the biggest challenges with providing customer service through social is dealing with the sheer volume of requests. Griffin said companies should have a well-defined strategy for prioritizing responses.

This should include ranking factors from social–a Klout score, for example–and customer history. A company might choose to respond first to longtime customers or those with a history of high-value purchases.

“Companies should strike a balance between who [the customer] is in the community, but also who they are to you,” Griffin says.

Always Post a Public Response

Complaints voiced on social is comparable to giving your angriest customers a megaphone to voice their opinions.

To mitigate this risk, companies should always at least acknowledge the comment in social before taking the interaction to another channel. Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center observers will watch this happen in real time. If an attendee asks a highly technical question on Twitter, the agent might reply, “I’m emailing you now!” or “Here’s a link to a Chatter discussion on this topic.”

This approach publicly demonstrates that the company is listening and responds to everyone. If the interaction was taken straight to email, no one would know customer service addressed the problem.

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Extreme Marketing Team

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