All posts by Mark Hanley

Many companies are beginning to realize they need to take a more strategic view toward the intelligence they gather from social communities, realizing that this insight not only can transform their approach to customer service, but also support brand health over the long term. As a result, “Social Servicing” – understanding and addressing the needs of customers online and determining how to measure those efforts to make informed decisions as to when and how to invest in additional resources and scale on a global basis – is getting more focus.

Many global brands seeking to support and develop the long-term health of their brand are beginning Social Servicing programs as one of their leading forays into social activation.  For most, customer servicing is one of the first business groups within the enterprise to begin social activation.  Customer servicing programs can leverage social servicing into the business goals already in place.  Most often the most successful programs are created from teams of  existing service professionals  already well versed at handling customer relations and adding the social channels to the more traditional channels already being serviced layering in social as part of their servicing solution.   As businesses establish their online presence through easily recognizable and increasingly active Twitter handles, forum and social channel presences Social Servicing becomes normalized and the opportunity for Social Servicing to expand into new channels and to go beyond one to one customer interaction grows.   Over time, this practice becomes increasingly important to the business and its reputation, organizations likely will need to increase the number of staff devoted purely to this function, especially across multiple markets. Customer service professionals are also going to want to have better ways to analyze the influence of each author to understand the bigger picture of their efforts and establish uniform criteria for issue resolution and escalation. To that end integration and usage of API’s is becoming a key component.

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We all want to know how our customers feel about the level of support they are receiving, however the way we obtain customer satisfaction feedback has changed over the years. 30 years ago, the label of customer support was non-existent. When you needed to contact a company for assistance, you’d call a company and hope that you were able to reach somebody who could help you. In the early 80’s the term “Customer Service” began popping up and consumers knew they could call a company and speak to a person who could assist them. In the 90’s the name changed to “Customer Support’, as companies realized that their customers wanted a wide range of support that reached well beyond the realm of customer service, yet the only way to get immediate assistance was to call the company.  In the past ten years, the ways to communicate with a customer support department has evolved from calling to emailing, live on-line chatting and even tweeting to receive assistance.

Just as the way we provide support has changed, the way we receive feedback has equally evolved. Early on the only way companies received feedback was when customers called, and typically those calls were in the form of complaint calls. In the 90’s companies started proactively soliciting feedback from their customers, in the form of surveys. While surveys were a good way to measure customer satisfaction, the results tended to be negative. Today, companies can find out what customers are saying about their company, products and/or services by seeing what is being said about them on the Internet. While people use the Internet to vent their frustrations and/or concerns about a company, products and/or services, they also sing the praises of a company and its offerings on their blog, Facebook or Twitter pages.

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