What Are The Thought Leaders Saying About Social Customer Service?

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the Social Customer Service Summit 2015. All the great and good from the social world where there, including representatives of 70+ leading UK and worldwide brands.

We’d all come to hear the latest ideas and advice from some of the industry’s thought leaders, such as Luke Brynley-Jones, Martin Hill-Wilson and Doctor Nicola Millard. We also heard case studies from some of the leading social customer service brands.

It was an excellent day, with lots of breakout sessions and interactive discussion. I felt it was worth outlining some of the main themes of the day, looking to summarise some of the key points made by our industry’s leading lights:

Luke Brynley-Jones: It’s here and it’s not going away!

Luke started the day outlining some pertinent statistics from a recent ICMI survey. They really underline that social customer service is no longer an optional extra, but that it is now critical to support customers via social.

  • 68% of businesses say social is a necessary service channel
  • 58% say that social care increases their customer loyalty
  • 38% think they will lose customers without social support options

Luke then went on to discuss the growth of social customer service teams: Comcast recently announced that they have tripled the size of their social team, Phillips cover 100 languages 24/7 and Air France already has a team of over 200 social agents

Martin Hill-Wilson: Social and Digital Collide…

Martin has talked for a long time around advocating an omni-channel approach to customer service. Today, there was more of a focus on how social has become and important part of customer service, across all digital channels.

As always, Martin included some new innovative areas in digital customer care, from visual IVR, to new messaging platforms and even the potential rise of ‘robots’ acting as first line customer service agents.

One of the key areas in his presentation and, one of the underlying themes for the day, was highlighting the importance of a seamless transition from public social channels to private digital channels, such as email or chat.

There is now a real challenge for contact centres to build a single customer view, across all social and digital channels. This would enable agents to track the customer journey more easily and maintain ‘threaded’ omni-channel conversations.

Doctor Nicola Millard: Reviewing the Social Dance Floor…

I’m sad that Nicola is no longer a ‘futurologist’ and, instead, has a more standardised job title. Perhaps because of this, she chose to look back on some research that BT carried out last year, where they reviewed over 44K social mentions, across 13 brands, from a week in August 2014.

The retail sector dominated the share of voice here, with travel and financial services also showing a significant volume of brand mentions. It was noted that the telecoms and utilities sectors tend to ‘spike’ following events, such as service outages, but government consistently showed low levels of social interaction.

The sector share of voice was not too surprising, but Nicola then went on to breakdown the different types or nature of social conversation across these brands; which broke down as follows:

  • Opinion / Comment:            40%
  • Complaint / Criticism:          25%
  • Compliment / Praise:           15%
  • Suggestions:                          5%
  • Questions & Answers:          25%

Perhaps social isn’t just used as a ‘channel of last resort’ any more, but now offers a plethora of useful customer insight, as well as being an essential customer service channel?

Key Challenges to the Contact Centre for 2015:

In summary, we can look at SCSS15 as promoting a series of new key challenges to the contact centre and social customer service teams:

  1. How do we seamlessly switch our customers from public to private channels and maintain a ‘threaded’ conversation across all digital channels?
  1. How do we create a single customer view, across all channels? One that is easy to access and allows agents to track the customer journey.
  1. Social and digital channels are blurring. How do we provide a seamless customer experience for our new omni-channel customers?

My personal view is that technology can be an enabler for all these challenges. But, contact centres are going to need to work hard to keep pace with the ever-evolving digital world and the growing demands of the social customer!