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March 29, 2017

Archives for May 2012

Social’s First Real Customer Service Centric Platform? Product Review: Social Dynamx

By michaelpace on May 13, 2012

“No social enterprise transformation strategy can succeed unless Customer Service plays a central role.” said Michael Maoz, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst for Customer Strategies research at Gartner.  “Current structures are inadequate. The challenge for senior management is to engineer the necessary processes and technology changes that will allow customer service to evolve to embrace social trends.  New concepts of recruitment, measurement and outcomes are necessary to allow for the increased agent participation in social media.  When this happens, and the right supporting technology is deployed, businesses will see increased customer engagement and higher overall customer success.” 

Damn, I could not have said that better.  Being one of a relative few social customer service practitioners, who has built a high quality, scalable social customer support team, I have been perplexed over the past two years as to why customer support/service/retention/success has been the afterthought of the social media platform market.  After all, doesn’t the terminology “customer engagement” imply there is life after they have been acquired?  In my own humble opinion, most of engagement is post acquisition.  Everyone knows customer retention is multiple times more cost effective than acquisition.  And I do not believe Marketing will ever be able to scale efficiently to provide the intimacy social customer service requires.  However, the social platform market is flooded with Marketing-centric products or “oh yeah, we need to cover social” CRM bolt-ons.  This is why I was incredibly interested in a new company called Social Dynamx and their recently released purpose built social customer service platform.

I learned of Social Dynamx from friend Heather Strout, Customer Insights Manager, and was asked to provide my feedback after meeting some team members and a demo.  Here are my thoughts*:

Company Leadership:

If you read my posts, you know the value that I place on culture.  I consider culture as the most important tacit or non-tacit asset in every organization.  Before meeting with Social Dynamx team, I was very impressed with the backgrounds of their leadership.  Their backgrounds are a strong mix of customer service, call center, social strategy and execution, community and technology.  If you are going to design a tool with the customer service agent in mind, you need to be able to understand the complexities of a representative.  They have a new workflow, marketing initiative, incentive, exception, and policy to remember each day.  Their workstations are typically covered in post-it notes and processes, and are expected to get it right every time.  This is not an easy job.  Similarly, I have often used the analogy of understanding social to learning to riding a bike.  You can read all the books and blogs on how to ride a bike or social, but until you get your butt on the seat or actively, consistently engage on social networks, you will not get it.  Social Dynamx’s leadership structure, experience and competencies comes through the product. (Leadership is never strictly held in C-level positions)

This cross functional knowledge also is provided at implementation.  While it’s a cloud based product, each company should customize to teach your system what to look for.  The last thing a customer service stakeholder wants to hear is sales people drown on about all the things it can do for you, when they have no idea how customer service or a call center works.  Social Dynamx background and experience provides both social and service understanding.

Know Your Customer: Social Dynamx Agent Priority

In my presentation for Customer Service leaders, the 5 Steps to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team, the first step of the Customer Conversation is always Know Your Customer. Social Dynamx provides a clean view of your customer’s major social networks,customer support/peer-to-peer forums and blogs, and an assessment of the priority based on their proprietary model scoring model.  This priority should help your agents and management staffs understand the social impact a customer may have on your business.  Of course, influence is contextual, and while someone may have a large following in technology, it may not pertain to your knitting business (for example).  However, you never know how many of those tech folks like to throw a quilt together in their spare time.  For future versions, I would love to see a more integrated view of YOUR customer’s value or customer lifetime value.  You need to understand both social impact and the specific value this customer represents to your company.

The conversation thread feature is perfect and rarely seen in anything on the market today.

Time to get Real:

Three major aspects I wanted to make sure I received an understanding of was:

Are there differentiated views for agents and management? Yes (see pics)

How can I measure my agents? Yes, there are out of the box metrics for measuring SLA’s (service level agreements) and customizable fields.  We discussed the future need for management to be able to quality monitor their associates, and is a critical aspect towards agent measurement.  There is, however, a nice connection to your knowledge base to more quickly answer questions.

I probably not buying a whole new CRM (especially in this economy), does this work with my existing account or issue management tool? It’s cloud based, so no servers to maintain on site, and is an open architecture to integrate with major CRM tools.  Obviously, considering this was a demo, I was not able to witness how their systems integrate with CRM platforms.  This is a perfect opportunity to bring in your network support team to understand the implications. 

As a Customer Service leader, I am thrilled to see a company think “customer support” first, and I believe Social Dynamx has developed the solid, very customer centric social customer platform.  I love their approach, starting with understanding the customer through implementation.  Considering this is a newly released public product, they have a high majority of the critical business requirements covered.  (Product has been in place in a number of enterprise organizations, however, it has not been available to the general service public.)  I believe the biggest challenge will be the businesses they work with, as there is still a huge, glass barrier of customer service leaders actually taking hold of the customer service reigns, and driving their social business.  You can learn more about Social Dynamx here.

*I am not associated with Social Dynamx in any material manner other than my friend relationship with Heather Strout, and received no compensation for providing a review.  All commentary contained within is strictly my own perception and thoughts.  So if you are a hater, you know what you can do.

Social Dynamx Agent RoleSocial Dynamx Supervisor Trends


Customer Service Needs a Romper Room Magic Mirror or Transparency is Innovation

By michaelpace on April 23, 2012

Romper Room Transparency Customer Service

Magic Mirror, tell me today

Did companies do as they say,

I see Costco, Ritz Carlton, and Starbucks …

Ah nostalgia.  If you grew up in the late 70’s and the 80’s, you probably remember Miss Molly and the show that was Romper Room.  At the end of every episode, you waited with baited breath as Miss Molly would grab the magic mirror and peer through your television.  Would today be the day she see you?

Recently, I was researching a company called Zmags, which creates beautiful rich media catalogs for retailers and others.  On their support page, there is a simple and effective graphic showing customers when the slowest and busiest periods for support based on time zone.

Zmags Support pageIt’s open and honest approach to helping customers determine when the best time to call for non-urgent issues.  Ah transparency.  Having a graphic, like the one above, puts out a shingle and sets a level of expectation for customers.  It shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor execution, and can be used for setting internal bars to overcome.  This simple graphic started the hamster in my tiny brain running, and what else can be accomplished if other customer service metrics were made available and accessible to the public or your customer base.

Incident, Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scoring:

One of my greatest pet peeves of most companies today is the action of asking me for survey feedback and not providing any response in return.  Imagine if you could go to a link on a company’s website, and see near real time Incident, Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.  Was your feedback inline with other customers?   Was your experience an outlier?  Was your verbatim feedback part of a larger trend?  I believe this level of transparency would improve the customer experience.  It shows your customers that your organization is open to feedback, taking action on your feedback, and is concerned about your feedback beyond just numerical scores.  It also can be a place for proactive messaging.  If your company has received feedback that a certain product or service has a defect, you could insert messaging to your customers as to how you are tackling this particular problem.  And probably the most impactful result of opening up the customer service score kimono, executives and leaders would know that their scores are out there for the world to see.  If your NPS or C-Sat score was below benchmark level, you can bet your last budget dollar that C-level leaders would be eager to invest more to bring those scores up.

Service Level Agreements: (Service Level, FCR, Compliance Scores)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, service level metrics should not be the primary metric used to determine the quality of your service.  Unless your speed of answer is beyond acceptable (you know what acceptable is), how fast someone answers a phone, email, tweet or chat is a very small part of a customer experience.   However, it is an important metric that shows both a part of the customer experience and how effectively staffed your organization is to help customers.  Similar to the chart provided by Zmags, giving your customers an understanding of how often you answer their calls within an expected period, provides insight to how you often you keep your word (Walk matches Talk).  The same thought process can be applied to FCR (First Contact Resolution) and any Compliance scores that are important to your customers.  Again, by publicly providing how well you are serving your customers, you create even more accountability.

Employee Morale, Satisfaction and Engagement Scores:

You say your company is a great place to work, well prove it.  Every customer loves to work and deal with a happy, pleasant associate.  Everyone also knows when an employee doesn’t care about their job or their customers.  By posting your employee morale, satisfaction and engagement scores, customers gain insight to how well companies treat their employees.  Similar to companies doing social good, customers would rather transact with companies which take care of their associates.  I wouldn’t recommend conducting an associate survey more than once a quarter, and make sure you are surveying in combination with broader company surveys.

By pulling back the curtain to your metrics and satisfaction scores, you can create higher levels of trust between your organization and your current and future customer base.  Yes, this level of openness has some potential risks.  Customers may not understand the scores, what is excellent versus poor.  But if you provide excellent service, why not show it off.  The more you can open up your company to the public, the more they can build trust.  (more on measuring trust)  Innovation comes in many forms, you can make transparency your next.

Do you think you are open enough to show off your scores?

What would stop you from doing it?

If your scores were available to the public, how would you change your actions?

Do you remember Romper Stompers?  They rocked!

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