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March 29, 2017

Archives for December 2011

20 minutes is too long for Twitter Customer Service

By michaelpace on December 20, 2011

Service Level expectations

Recently, I read an interesting post from Simply Measured about @HyattConcierge Twitter Customer Service metrics.  The article started the brain flywheel spinning with thoughts on what do customers see as acceptable and superior service levels.

               Which tweets or social posts should be replied to?
               How quickly should a tweet or social post be responded to?
               Should the brand or company always reply?
               What are customers’ expectations on business hours?

See full article here, please also see their live report.  The post states @HyattConcierge Twitter response time goal (service level) is 20 minutes. Their business hours are 9-5 (I am assuming Central Time since they are headquartered in Chicago).  20 minutes? In 20 minutes, I can walk down 10 flights of stairs and resolve my question at the front desk, plus I will be tired and aggravated.  And only 9-5?  Usually when I stay at a hotel, I am there more than just the hours of 9-5.  Their Twitter page shows them available 24/7? hyattconcierge

I am happy to see that Hyatt has the ability to monitor these metrics, and has service level goals.  But are they the right goals?

In my humble opinion, these sound like service level goals created by what the company wants or can do, instead of starting from the customer’s point of view.  It would be interesting to me to know if their social customer service is handled and lead by Marketing, or by their Customer Service department.

TIP: Before you commit to providing Social Customer Service (full time versus experimentation), you need to be clear on what your service level goals are, and set up your organization to provide those levels of service. 

Before I provide my thoughts on superior social service levels (because I am not in the business of having average or benchmark customer service), you need to understand you customer’s needs and expectations.  Here are generic superior social service levels.

Twitter: (during stated business hours)

Response Time

@ mentions

Direct Messages

Generic mentions

5 minutes (max)

100% reply (unless Troll)

100% reply

Based on context

You also should not forget to follow social reply tenants:

  • Know your customer
  • Acknowledge
  • Be transparent & human
  • Know when to keep online, take offline or move near-line

Other Social Networks:


Response Time



20 minutes – 2 hours

Always dependent on the comment, see if your Facebook community will jump in first, but every Facebook comment should have something from the brand/company

8 hours

Slightly longer is acceptable to most on LinkedIn.  Great place for your community to respond

4 hours

If you choose to respond by video, write a comment first that a video response is coming.  Video response is not a necessity

3 hours

Bloggers like to be acknowledged
Branded Communities

0 – 48 hours

If they need urgent support, don’t wait for your community.  Otherwise let your community take a shot at the comment.  If the comment goes 2 days without acknowledgement or response, jump in

Most importantly, start with your customers first, and operationalize based on their expectations (then exceed them).  By starting with your customers first, you can build the organization and expectations to support their needs.  Just forming a group to handle these requests/concerns/mentions may actually disappoint before they help out a customer.  “Yes, it’s great you replied, but I needed your help 4 hours ago”.

What do you feel are superior social customer service goals?

Do you have service level goals for your social customer support?

Are you working backwards from the customer?

Are you Walking your Talk?

By michaelpace on December 15, 2011 Leadership credibility

As a member of the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, I have the opportunity to speak with a number of Customer Service Managers, Directors and VP’s across multiple industries and geographies. The most common theme among these leaders is the intricate balancing act of providing extraordinary experiences while reducing expenses (and sometimes juggling regulatory risk and/or time constraints).

I have battled with the same dilemmas myself. Over time, I have learned to ask myself and my colleagues a few questions:

  • What do you coach your service representatives on?
  • What are the common conversations in your team and all-hands meetings?
  • What is it that your CEO/COO/VP of Customer Service is evangelizing?

More often than not, the answers sound like: call quality, customer experience, superior service, etc.

Some time later, I follow up with another set of questions:

  • What are the key metrics that you look at daily?
  • How do you incent your service representatives?
  • What are the metrics that your boss (whether he or she be the CEO or someone else) are hammering you about?

These answers usually sound like: service level, AHT (average handle time), 50-75% of incentives involve productivity numbers, expenses, cost per account/loan/customer, etc.

Things that make you hmmm.

                                    What you talk                                                                                What you walk

Constraints - QualityConstraints - cost








The terms [triple/quad constraints] and charts are typically used in project management, but apply to our quandary.  One constraint cannot be changed without altering another. Triple or Quad constraints are funny; everything cannot be the most important or the highest priority. Trying to make everything the highest priority will only drive you and your service representatives crazy. It leads to mediocre quality, often subpar cost metrics, low morale, and CEO’s/COO’s/VP’s of Customer Service breathing down your neck.

With all of that in mind, how do you move (walk) forward?

1.       The first step for any recovery program is to admit you have a problem.

  • Be objective.
  • Ask your floor representatives what they think you say and what you really focus on.
  • Listen to calls, review chats, and emails (are your associates rushing, taking too long?

2.     Force rank your current priorities (create the order that you believe you are presently working under)Everything cannot be equal

  • Everything cannot be equal

i.      Quality (call quality, defect management, complaints, customer incident surveys)

ii.      Cost (AHT, service levels, cost per X, expenses, utilization, occupancy)

iii.      Time (are new product releases critical? Service availability?)

iv.      Risk (regulatory/legal, credit, reputational)

  • Make sure you have accurate differentials – use an entire 1-5 scale

3.     Have an honest, direct conversation with senior management about what is the most important priority, what is the second most important priority, and so on.

Now that you have your direction, you need to determine what you are going to change. (Hint: don’t limit yourself to the base of the box, work the edges. Read Seth Godin’s Linchpin for more on that subject.)

  • People – Do you have the right people in the right places to succeed? Do you need to reorganize? How would you incent people to deliver your priority? What do you need to communicate to your associates?
  • Process – What processes would you change? What metrics would you highlight? What dashboard items need to change?
  • Systems – How can you leverage your technical solutions to maximize your priorities?

Are you able to walk your talk? Or do you need to change your talk?


This post was originally published in May, but sadly it did not make the site conversion in June.