Avoiding customer service backlash on social media channels
By David Parcell, Managing Director EMEA and Corporate Officer, Verint Systems
29th June 2011 - Social media has fast become the new medium of complaint as consumers vent their frustrations via means inherently designed to give the world a voice. Customers are taking their frustrations with products and services to sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in the knowledge that social media networks can generate more attention and faster responses than calling a contact centre.
Whilst many customer service executives mull over how they embrace social media channels as another platform from which to serve customers, how many are truly considering how they monitor these channels effectively to isolate potential customer service issues before they become major threats to their reputation and brand? Any customer service professional nowadays knows that poor experience no longer results in a customer telling 10 friends through word of mouth: but that they can instantly reach hundreds of thousands of people. More and more organisations are being forced on to the back-foot, risking further reputational damage. What if they were able to pre-empt this social media backlash?
The key step is for marketers to partner with their customer service counterparts to adopt a proactive approach to anticipating customer service issues before they become spotlights of “what not to do” across the social media sphere. Together, they can work to develop an early warning system, by utilising and taking action on the vast intelligence that already resides in the contact centre and wider business.
Hidden away in the business are a plethora of interactions, anecdotal incidents and customer service data. By analysing this invaluable data, including calls, texts, email, chat and blogs, companies can catch incidents before they happen, by looking at the magnitude, level and channels of customer contact, and identify areas of frustration associated with respective issues. Knowing what is happening, and more importantly why it is happening, provides businesses with an arsenal of information to pacify dissatisfied customers and resolve issues that would otherwise have been directed to the Web, via social media.
The fact still remains that customers are most likely to go through the contact centre first to complain about a product or service. This offers the business the option of providing a resolution, or at least, understanding. A customer, loyal to a product or service isn’t going to turn-tail and run at the mere sight of an issue. However, if resolutions aren’t found or, more importantly, the complainant feels ignored, the company in question needs to brace itself for the consequences. Although, wouldn’t it be easier if this was cut-off at source?
Sophisticated tools that help determine and track customer behaviours, such as speech, text and data analytics, can be used to predict and identify trends that may find their way into the public domain. This will help organisations avoid customer service backlash played out through social channels. Speech analytics, for example, automatically categorises and analyses call content to reveal the root causes of rising call volumes, customer perceptions and customer behaviours. Such tools have the power to mine the different customer channels and surface trends that companies don’t even know to look for, without having to listen to thousands of calls. The solution can automatically identify increases in frequency of terms and phrases like “unacceptable,” “problem,” “unhappy,” and “cancel my account”, even if they were not predefined by the user. Similarly, text analytics can mine conversations via email and community chat to identify customer service issues early on.
The intelligence captured through these methods allows for unparalleled insight into customer requirements and influences, enabling a clear view of customers’ wants and needs, and how well they’re being met. The same intelligence also provides the ability to identify trends and better forecast customer behaviour – acting as an effective early warning system to diagnose at-risk situations and as a result, mitigate social media backlash. While such systems may not stop every disgruntled customer from sharing their customer service complaints on social networks, more often than not this insight can be used to recognise problems and resolve the potential reputation damaging issues before they go mainstream. It also highlights how the relationship is working between customers and agent to identify any cracks in the process or where the business could add value. It also acts as a flare to highlight broken back office processes that are driving repeat or increased call volumes.
If organisations use these afore mentioned analytics tools they can catch issues before they make onto the social network scene, therefore preserving customers and protecting a brand’s reputation.