Customer services using social media to meet the needs of customers has been a growing trend for some time. But many organisations are still to crack that nut.
by GUEST EDITOR Nicky Speed
Social media tools offer far greater customer insight than we could've imagined even a couple of years ago. We can respond to posts about services, thank customers with immediate replies and give them useful info about the other great things we do. We can even scour sector hashtags for possible issues.
In short, social media is quickly changing what's expected in today's customer service world.
So why are so many organisations still scared to hand over the reins to their customer service teams to operate social media channels?
I had a lively discussion about this subject when I was telling another communications professional about how we had recently handed over the day-today responsibilities of responding to customer enquiries on Twitter to our Traveline team. I was met with an expression of astonishment and a reply of, “do you really trust them to do this? I don’t know whether I could just hand my baby over.”
Okay, so I know this can sound daunting when you have built up a strong social media presence - it’s difficult to let go, especially to people who may know very little about the crafting of great online content. But…these are the same people you trust to pick up the phone and talk to a customer, the same people who would respond to a complaint on email. And ultimately, the customer doesn’t care how well worded your response is on social media, they just want an answer – and quick!
I’m not saying this to make it sound that it is completely irrelevant what we do as communications professionals on social media, because it’s not – far from it. We’re doing some wonderful, creative things out there.
This is why I would argue that giving your customer service teams more responsibility on social media is NOT going to do you out of a job. It actually frees up more time for your comms, marketing and digital teams to focus on more strategic, proactive activities as well as listen and engage more. This is exactly why we’re taking this approach – and we haven’t lost control, we still have complete oversight.
This decision hasn’t been taken purely for selfish reasons. Our approach is actually enhancing customer service and was implemented in response to customer intelligence – they want answers outside the core hours of 9am-5pm. And this is exactly what we are giving them because our Traveline team operates from 7am-8pm and at weekends too.
And anyway, shouldn’t meeting customer needs ultimately be at the heart of what we do? A win-win for all I say.
Nicky Speed is Senior Communications Lead at Mersey Travel