March 05, 2013 • By Ann Ruckstuhl
Tags — Cloud Contact Center, contact center, contact center agent, customer experience, Customer Service, customer support, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, Hypatia Research, Information Management, Integrated Agent Desktop, Justin Kern, Leslie Ament, LiveOps, LiveOps Engage, social crm, social customer, Social Media
It was once said, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. This saying holds true when it comes to the new era of customer service we’ve entered into.
The other day, I ran across an article on Information Management’s website that harkened me back to an issue we were addressing last year. The title of the article – “Social Monitoring Minus Interaction Misses Out on Potential” – first caught my attention because it’s hard to believe that most brands are still stuck in the “convincing” stage of social customer service. Here at LiveOps, we are in 100% agreement with Senior Editor Justin Kern’s statement on the importance of moving past social media monitoring, but why are brands so slow to engage on social media?
In his article, Kern references a report from Hypatia Research Group that found only 246 out of the 1,100 global organizations surveyed had social media software for customer service that enabled them to go beyond social media customer monitoring. Leslie Ament of Hypatia Research states that while the anecdotal information social media monitoring provides may be interesting, “if I were a CMO and I had to report to the board on why I spent six-figures on a social media monitoring system, I probably would not have my job for very long.”
What’s missing is the ROI from social customer service. What will it take to convince companies to move beyond investing in simple monitoring tools and truly recognize the benefits of a solution that provides advanced customer engagement features? If a customer compliment or complaint via phone doesn’t fall on deaf ears, why should a Tweet – especially when that Tweet plays into ROI in that it carries three times more viral word-of-mouth (WOM) influence than a phone call (source: American Express)? CMOs must recognize that social customer service ROI will be realized when they partner with customer service and contact centers across people, process and technology.
Case in point: A recent joint study conducted by LiveOps and Dr. Natalie Petouhoff evaluated three companies, the challenges they faced when it came to customer service, and the ROI on using an integrated agent desktop with native social customer service engagement capabilities. The end result? Agent productivity increased 25% to 50%. Agent “happiness” or agent “experience” improved 25% to 50%. First contact resolution, average interaction handling time, customer churn and customer lifetime value (CLTV) all improved significantly. One company estimated $8M in incremental profit a year based on agent productivity savings and incremental revenue associated with turning negative WOM into positive customer experiences and increased CLTV from proactive social engagement. That ROI speaks volumes!
So how can your company go from ordinary to extraordinary? It’s simple. Keep up with your customers, not only by going where they go, but also by engaging with them there. Become an extraordinary company by going that extra mile. I encourage you to visit our website to find out more about how you can leverage LiveOps to deliver extraordinary social, cross-channel customer service: www.liveops.com/engage.
Don’t just listen. Engage!
One question dominated recent discussions in a Linkedin group I follow: “What department owns social media?” Most chime in with “marketing” or “public relations,” but it turns out this is the wrong question altogether.
“That’s like customer service asking marketing if they can use the phone to make a call,” industry expert Michael Pace told me. “Social media is a tool, not a function.”
Instead, companies should ask how you can deliver social media to those who need it, when they need it. Many automated social listening tools provide big-picture analysis, such as customer sentiment and keyword trends. But what about messages that require an immediate response, like customer service?
More than half of Twitter users expect a response within two hours of tweeting a complaint.
51% of Facebook users expect same-day response.
- Oracle report, Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012
Customer support software developers, including LiveOps, have developed tools to solve this problem. Here’s how this technology turns social media listening into customer service action.
Prioritization is Key
As mentioned, one of the most difficult parts of socialized customer support is fishing out the most critical comments among the masses of information out there.
To overcome this challenge, LiveOps listens for any combination of the #CompanyName, @CompanyName or brand mention with customer service triggers like “help” or “need assistance.”
Then the technology applies a priority ranking based on a variety of factors, such as content, customer’s purchase history, and social activity level. A computer manufacturer company might, for example, place higher value on a key social media influencer or brand advocate who recently purchased ten laptops, and bump his help request to the top of the queue.
This priority scale completely depends on the company’s customer service strategy. At the same time, the provider should provide a dictionary of various prioritization options.
Service Needs to be Agile
“It’s important that all channels are treated with the same level of depth. This allows agents to easily pivot between each channel without any change in service.” – Sanjay Mathur, LiveOps Senior Vice President, Product Management.
Another common obstacle to efficient social customer service is process. If a complaint is submitted on Twitter, what’s the next step? Create a ticket? Respond in Twitter with a link? Send an email?
Not only does this make it difficult to respond quickly, it also provides a poor customer experience. LiveOps processes social media issues in the same way as tickets from any other channel. Once the social media complaint is identified, the software creates a ticket that shows up in the service queue along with requests from other channels. When they respond, it’s automatically pushed to Twitter, email or whatever channel makes sense in that situation.
Context is Crucial
If a community or social media manager is manually monitoring Twitter and Facebook, they won’t have the complete customer context on hand. As a result, they likely won’t flag a complaint as critical if the customer called the hotline, emailed three hours ago, and then tweeted, of example. They simply wouldn’t know their past points of contact. Similarly, they wouldn’t be able to identify loyal and high-value customers that might warrant a faster response than others.
Automated Routing Speeds Response Time
LiveOps also uses a rules-based interface to automate social message routing. The system can be configured to consider agent expertise, work group, current caseload, average time to respond, and service satisfaction rate. The platform might, for example, choose a top service-rated agent to handle a strongly negative issue.
Reporting tools also enable managers to constantly monitor response time, net promoter scores, satisfaction rates and more so they can fine-tune process and prioritization rules.
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.
August 02, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Tags — cloud, Cloud Contact Center, contact center, contact center agent, Customer Service, customer support, customer support agents, LiveOps, multichannel, social crm, social customer service, Social Media, social media call center, social media contact center, social media support
Social media is disrupting customer care in ways that are both profound and difficult to predict. Not only do contact centers need to effectively manage voice, email, SMS, and chat traffic, they’ve also got to deal with tweets, wall posts, likes, dislikes, pins, blog comments, etc. This is an ever-expanding list of social media message types that grow in volume by the day. In short, the contact center is moving from merely chaotic to completely insane.
Until recently, contact center owners have had no choice but to deploy new social media monitoring systems that have no relationship with existing (and already disparate) contact services. Due to this, contact centers are becoming unmanageably complex, and customer support agents are being pigeonholed into unnatural specialties based on media channel type.
Fortunately, new technology solutions are emerging to address these problems. If you are in the market for new contact center technology, you should consider a vendor that supports all of the contact channels you need now and plans to expand coverage of new channels as they emerge. There are many reasons for this, and I’ll cover five of them here.
1) Support for Cross-channel Pivot Scenarios
Detecting social media activity related to your brand is important, but it’s only the first step; that initial @reply or direct message may not be enough to address the customer’s issue. You will need the ability to “pivot” from public forums like Twitter and Facebook to more private, interactive channels like voice or email. For example, you might want to provide a link in your direct message that generates a voice callback from a contact center agent, who then can directly address the problem surfaced in the original tweet.
Implementing the channel pivot capability using several disparate customer contact systems (one for voice, one for social media, etc.) can be incredibly challenging, but these scenarios are supported very naturally in an integrated customer engagement environment.
2) Keeping Up With Changes in the Social Media Landscape
Twitter and Facebook support are obvious requirements of any contact center solution now, but several years ago this wasn’t the case. Pinterest went from an unknown service to the 4th largest social network within months. Conversely, MySpace, the preeminent social network prior to the Facebook explosion, has gradually settled into near-irrelevance.
Social networks emerge, grow, contract, and explode in unpredictable ways; because of this, contact centers need to align themselves with innovative vendors that are focused on the ever-shifting tides of the social media waters. At LiveOps, we have developed a social media connector architecture that allows us to quickly connect to new social networks and use new capabilities of existing social media networks. For example, we recently added the ability to route new tweets to agents based on location data.
3) Providing a Unified Agent Experience
There’s no good reason that a contact center agent should need to use more than one desktop tool to service customers across different contact channels. In fact, switching between applications and browser windows can seriously impact an agent’s effectiveness. Because of this, convergence of desktop applications is often a high-priority IT goal.
Contact center technologies that support multiple contact channels have the opportunity to provide a consistent, rational user experience across those channels. In the case of LiveOps, contacts from multiple channels are displayed and manipulated using the same basic visual tools, with some special channel-specific tools displayed as appropriate (for example, ability to choose @reply vs. direct message when responding to a tweet). Also, agents can decide to service the customer using the original contact channel, or pivot to a more appropriate channel for the context.
4) Reporting Across All Engagement Channels
Historical reporting and real-time monitoring are among the most important functions of any contact center solution. Unfortunately, these reporting and monitoring needs are very difficult to satisfy in a multi-vendor environment. At the most basic level, matching customer and interaction records makes any data rationalization project problematic and often expensive, involving weeks or months of consultant time.
This is one area in which multichannel solutions shine brightest. Since all customer contacts are managed by the same platform, data is consistent by default. There is no need to spend time and money merging cross-channel interactions or customer records. With LiveOps, an agent or supervisor can see a customer’s cross-channel contact history instantly in a contact center dashboard, enabling a more engaged, effective customer experience.
5) Cross-channel Application Development
For every new technology a contact center implements, IT developers and consultants must take a new programming interface into account. Implementing voice call, email, and Twitter processing separately forces the IT application developer to write applications using three different APIs. This leads to higher development costs and longer time to deployment.
Compare this to a multichannel vendor with a single, consistent API. While developing a new CTI-driven application, for example, the application developer is also learning elements of the API that will be applied when integrating with the Twitter or chat channels. The contact center IT staff can build up knowledge of a single platform and apply it many times over.
As you evaluate vendors for your next social media contact center project, be sure to ask the question: “How can your product make my life easier?” If the answer doesn’t include simplification through multichannel support, you should really keep looking.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to team up with Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, a prominent social strategist and evangelist, in hosting a webinar on social customer service. As if this webinar wasn’t exciting enough, she also worked with LiveOps on a white paper – “Social Customer Service: The Pivotal Driver of the Social Enterprise” – and infographic – Your Brand on Social Media. Together, we explored a radically new breed of customer, the social customer, and how enterprise organizations must also make a radical transition to manage their social customers more effectively.
In putting together our infographic, we found that 60% of companies don’t respond to customer comments on social channels. This number seems surprising at first until you realize that, while companies may be on social channels thanks to marketing, they can’t keep up with the amount of customer comments on these channels. Now that brands have gone social, they need to go beyond using social channels to market and monitor; they need to interact with consumers to drive greater engagement. Additionally, brands are still determining which internal team should handle these comments – marketing, sales, product development, back offices, or customer service. To effectively manage social customers, these departments need the right technology and process to work together to manage these interactions residing in the contact center.
In turn, our integration of social media in the cloud contact center can enable you to better manage and engage with the social customer. Through LiveOps Social on the LiveOps Platform, we make it easy for you to manage, measure, and respond to your customers online with the same routing, quality control, efficiency, and reporting needed for other channels, such as voice, email, and chat. Your customers are telling your company’s story on their social channels, and it’s time you joined them.
I encourage you to take a few moments to read over Dr. Petouhoff’s white paper or grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and watch our webinar to find out more about:
- The rapidly evolving role of Customer Service and the expansion of this critical role to include collaboration with PR, Communication, Marketing, and Sales.
- The myriad of challenges in managing today’s Social Customer Service, including the struggle to keep pace with the volume of customer interactions.
- The value of a Contact Center – Marketing partnership and the inherent value in creating one central hub for servicing social customer interactions.
When you’re done, we’ll help you take your online presence from the top to the bottom of our infographic.
It is clear from Cloudforce London and the many LiveOps customers and partners that we met with that ‘Social CRM’, or social customer service is on the move in the UK. This was showcased in several case studies at the Cloudforce event.
Many of our customers in the UK are trailblazers in this area and have smartly leveraged our social-enabled cloud contact center software to deliver high quality customer service, and in the process, distinguished themselves from their peers. They are mixing ‘traditional channels’, like voice and email, with social channels like Twitter and Facebook, to provide a better 2-way and real-time interaction with their customers.
With LiveOps, Wokingham Council’s contact center now can service the borough’s 160,000 citizens through their preferred communication channels be it email, chat, voice, SMS or Twitter. By acknowledging social government through LiveOps, the council is ahead of the curve and has been able to deploy new services such as the traffic issue reporting service and the “Dog and Bone Text Alert Scheme”. Through the scheme, the council’s contact center can alert dog walkers via SMS when a dog has been reported as missing within the borough.
Through LiveOps Social, Royal Mail has improved public perception of the organization by delivering a deeper level of customer engagement. By responding to customer concerns on public forums such as Twitter in real-time, the postal service has accelerated “first tweet problem resolution”. Ultimately Royal Mail has demonstrated a true commitment to their customers by harnessing cloud-based customer services.
As the show concluded and the sun set over London’s Excel, it became clear that the social enterprise will continue to gain momentum in the UK and beyond. Hats of the trailblazers as they set the scene for the future in customer services!
- Marty Beard, President & CEO
May 22, 2012 • By LiveOps, Inc.
Cloudforce London kicked off today with a bang! Congratulations to George Hu and the Salesforce.com team for putting together yet another excellent event. George’s keynote on social enterprise and the rapidly evolving social customer service environment reflects LiveOps’ vision to a tee. As social customer interactions reach critical mass, NOW is the time for contact centers to embrace multichannel customer service with social at its core.
LiveOps is an established leader in social customer service and we firmly believe that social enterprise is the future. Today’s customers expect to engage in two-way communications with brands on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Pragmatically speaking, however, we must not lose sight of existing communications channels such as web chat, voice, email or SMS which many customers simply prefer. It would be counterproductive to just focus on one or two channels.
At Cloudforce we’re demonstrating LiveOps Social and LiveOps Voice contact center solutions. Both demos are attracting a lot of visitors. The fact that they are interested in both social and voice is a testament to the importance of multichannel customer services.
- Ann Ruckstuhl, SVP & CMO
Today, we are excited to announce the integration of Facebook into LiveOps Social on the LiveOps Platform. The way that brands interact with their customers has changed. We’re entering into a “New Era of CRM” – and we know that if you want CRM to be truly social, the contact center needs to be social, as well.
LiveOps Social, a cloud application, leverages the LiveOps Platform to manage social customer interactions and deliver a better customer experience by providing a more complete and holistic view of interactions across all channels. The application was specially designed to enable companies to go beyond just social media monitoring.
LiveOps Social for Facebook furthers our offering of a quick, easy, and efficient way for enterprises to bridge their contact center to their social and mobile customers, enabling them to engage in two-way interactions on customers’ preferred channels.
Why LiveOps Social?
- Monitor designated Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages, as well as by hashtag or keyword, in real-time
- Tweet or post comments easily in response to customer needs
- Pivot seamlessly from Twitter or Facebook to more private channels, such as voice or email, when required and then back again if needed
- Access reply templates for standardized responses
- Rest assured messages are intelligently routed to the best available agent through comprehensive queue management and engagement tools
- Allow agent access to a single, concise record of the customer’s complete interaction history
- Monitor and trackindividual agent performance; View report of all customer-agent interactions across all channels in a single system
LiveOps Social with new Facebook integration is available immediately worldwide. Want more information?
Earlier today, Facebook announced their $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, and last week Pinterest skyrocketed to become the third-largest social network behind Facebook and Twitter. When you consider how quickly the social media landscape can shift, you also have to wonder how companies can keep up with all the new and different ways customers want to interact with their brands–not to mention the sheer volume of interactions that could potentially be generated by them. Are customers going to be “pinning” a photo to initiate a service request any time soon? Perhaps they already are in some cases. But no matter what the latest trend might be, it’s clear that companies have to be better prepared to engage with customers wherever they choose to be.
One of the reasons to choose a cloud-based, multichannel technology platform in your contact center is to ensure that you are better prepared for the ever-shifting social landscape. At LiveOps, we’re seeing more companies utilize our cloud contact center platform to enable their contact centers to engage more effectively with customers in social media, and work more closely with their marketing teams to deliver a better customer experience in social channels. And, by leveraging a social-enabled cloud platform, enterprises can deliver customer service more quickly in new channels. Look for another post in a few weeks from Keith McFarlane, Chief Architect, that will go into more detail about how LiveOps cloud contact center technology can help you meet the challenges of the new social media landscape.
In the meantime, here are a few more “must-reads” from the past week on social customer service: