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February 22, 2017

Using Communities for Customer Support

By michaelpace on March 18, 2013

Crowd surfing

Overview:




A majority of organizations are using some sort of community based support model or have considered doing such.  The question is, are you seeing the results and cultivating real relationships with your customers?




It is known customer communities can be an incredible source of support, for both your customers and your organization.




In this episode, I have invited Michael Pace (Customer Support & Community Management Executive) to join myself on Voice of the Customer Radio to discuss “Community”.




Objectives:

 

  • Learn about communities and community management for all levels of the enterprise
  • Uncover the tremendous benefits of this unique “self” service tool
  • Step by step assessment guide on how to get started
  • Technical options available for you

 

Questions  Reviewed:
What is a community or support community? And how are they beneficial?


How do they impact engagement? C-Sat? Reducing Costs? Driving top line growth?


How did you get involved in communities?


Where do you start?


Once you are up and running, how do you keep your customers engaged?


Metrics?


How do you get executive buy in to pursue?


People – what kind of people do you need to be community managers? How do you hire?


What kinds of tools are available?


Are there any resources to help get folks started?






Listen to internet radio with execsintheknow on Blog Talk Radio



Execs In The Know promotes the capabilities of global “Customer Experience” or “Service Leadership” professionals around the world. 

Their model is to “serve” and be an “advocate” for providing awareness, facilitating networking opportunities, offering talent reach and highlighting the significant accomplishments this industry has to offer.

The Best Medicine for Customer Success – Prescription

PrescriptionBy michaelpace on February 26, 2013

  1. Take two of these every 4 hours for 5 days
  2. Go home and rest
  3. Drink plenty of fluids
  4. Make some chicken soup
  5. Take ibuprofen to reduce fever
  6. Gargle salt water for a sore throat
  7. Steam to loosen congestion
  8. Etc…

We’ve all been there.  There is something wrong with our bodies, and we visit a doctor.  After their years of training and experience, they know the path back to health.  They prescribe a solution to help you get back into optimum shape.  They provide clear steps on how to get from poor results to feeling great.  I think you are getting where I am going; Customer Success needs to be prescriptive.

Particularly in the SAAS, but also relevant in other areas, customers need guidance to help them on to the road of success.  A typical scenario has a customer researching a product for a need, considering options, developing intent to purchase, and finally purchase.  During this process, they may consult with a “Sales Coach” or “Sales Representative” from your company to help them understand the possible value and help with initial set up.  Then they are handed over to Support.  Essentially, you have given them the medicine, but as with your personal health, there are multiple steps to success.

Here’s my prescription to help you develop a prescriptive path to Customer Success.

x

Identify the most common paths to Customer Success or “Happy Paths” (no more than 5) – As the doctor has learned from years of training and experience, you must understand the best practices of customers to achieve success.  While product training and experience will be helpful, I believe, you should be leveraging the best practices of BPM (Business Process Management) to clearly understand your customers needs.Map out how your current processes are actually working.  The two best tools from BPM for this activity are SIPOC and Swimlane tools. These tools will help you understand the people and tools involved in the processes, and will help identify overlaps, holes, and general inefficiencies.  You will probably come out of this exercise with a number of opportunities.

  1. Map out how your current processes are actually working.  The two best tools from BPM for this activity are SIPOC and Swimlane tools. These tools will help you understand the people and tools involved in the processes, and will help identify overlaps, holes, and general inefficiencies.  You will probably come out of this exercise with a number of opportunities.
  2. Determine what is Critical to Quality for your customer.  A very helpful tool process managers use to flesh out who your customer is, what they care about, and how to measure what they care about.
  3. Get deep into your analytics.  Hopefully, in this age of Big Data, you are collecting information about your customer’s habits and trends.  You need to understand what your most successful customers are doing, and how they are doing it.  Examples: How often do they log in?  What activities are they doing?  Are they contacting Support or are they using Forums?  At my previous employer, we saw an incredibly strong correlation of success with the amount of times they contacted Support.  They more the better (odd but true).  Do they use your product or service in a specific way?  Understanding your data will assist in the Success Path creation.

Customer Success starts in the top of the funnel.  How have your built awareness, consideration, and intent to buy?  Ease of use is an incredibly important variable in your customer’s purchase decision.  You need to ensure your marketing, or the expectations your company is setting, is obtainable, and the value you provide can be evident quickly.  The most important part of Customer Success is providing evident value quickly.

x

The critical handoff(s) after purchase.  As I just stated, you must provide evident value quickly.  Hopefully, within your Sales process you are able to demonstrate real value to your customer.  This is one of the huge benefits of providing trial periods.  If you are lucky enough to have a fast sales cycle, you may need to take additional steps to ensure the handoff of post sales to implementation or support is done incredibly well.  In fact, the harder it is for the purchase to be made (financial, complexity, etc..) the more time and money you need to spend in designing handoffs that ensure effectiveness.  I highly recommend adding a Customer Success team to identify struggling customers.  If your customers just purchased, their will to achieve the skill is at its highest.  A Customer Success team is charged with developing exception reporting to understand customer usage gaps, and remedy the situation through a mixture of well placed content and some courtesy calls.  The behavioral analysis you conducted previously should provide what’s needed for understanding your exception reporting.

x

Monitor behavioral and emotional responses.  A low amount of companies are collecting behavioral information about their customer’s actions.  A much larger portion is monitoring emotional ties to your company (Customer Satisfaction and/or NPS).  Guess what? You need to be measuring both simultaneously.  Let me give an example:  I am a customer of a cable company that provides my phone, internet, and cable.  Behaviorally, I am a great customer; I buy all of their services and upgrades.  Emotionally, I can’t stand them.  My NPS for them would definitely be in the detractor category.  Conversely, I am a customer of an internet based music collection company.  I have them on my mobile devices and desktop, but I forget to use it 99% of the time.  I love the service and function, but I forget all about it.  You need to be able to monitor both to prescribe the right action.

x

Action. Action.  Action.  Sometimes we end up in analysis paralysis, and forget to do something with all this data.  Regardless, if you are collecting only NPS or behavioral scoring, or both, you need to do something with the info.  If you are scoring low on CSAT or NPS, you do not have a strong relationship with your customer or they do not trust you.  If you are scoring low behaviorally, you may need to increase awareness or education.  Regardless, you will need to determine strategies to move the needle on your customer.  Make sure your post sale marketing is directed to their particular issue.  Make sure your customer service agents can see their scoring and have effective means at their disposal to correct the situation.

x

Customer Success is complex, and has been overlooked for many years.  If you leverage process management tools, recognize your Sales team is deeply involved and it doesn’t start at Support, ensure solid handoffs, monitor behavioral and emotional responses, and take action, you have the prescription for Customer Success.

Everyone can be a Community Manager & Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day

CMAD High FiveBy michaelpace on January 28, 2013

If you are a “registered” or “titled” Community Manager, have a great Community Manager Appreciation Day – whether others folks in your company know it, we all love and appreciate your work.  Throughout the day, I have seen amazing content being produced and curated by a number of social rockstars and community managers.  But…

I am seeing so many different definitions and roles of community managers; some I wholly agree with, some I can see the connection, and some I just don’t get.  I wish I could ask a number of these incredibly smart people to get there take on a bunch of questions.

•    If you work in social marketing, are you a Community Manager?
•    If you work in social customer service, are you a Community Manager?
•    I’m assuming if you work with an actual community platform on a daily basis, you are a Community Manager?
•    Do Community Managers only work with social online channels?
•    Do Community Managers manage top of the funnel metrics? Support and advocacy metrics? Across the whole value chain?
•    Do you have to be a designated Community Manager to do community management work?

Here are my thoughts:

Community Management is a discipline.

Discipline (def): activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training

Other disciplines in business – Project Management, Process Management, People Management, Financial Management, Organizational Management, etc…

Every day, I employ business solutions that include a mix of many of the disciplines, and others not mentioned.  It is about HOW I work.

To put Community Management in context to other terms:

Community context

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone can be skilled and proficient in Community Management; from Call Center Associates to CEO’s.  Anyone can use the methodologies and tools to achieve a broader outcome.  Everyone can be involved in Community Management.  It also means not everyone should be involved.  “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

If you start thinking about Community Management as a discipline, many of the (continuing) lingering questions, concerns, and issues become a bit easier to address.

•    Where do Community Managers fit in an organization?
•    Why do Community Managers feel so stressed?
•    Why is allocation of resources so difficult?
•    What are they responsible for?
•    Why do so many people in the organization not understand what Community Managers do?

Ok, these questions are still difficult to address.  However, it’s difficult because organizations are not all the same.  Each may have a different answer based on the objectives, values, and strategies of the company.  Many different areas within a company can use or need to leverage the discipline, methodologies, and tools of a Community Manager.  At the same time, folks who are “titled” as a Community Manager need many of the same skills as other business areas, such as People Management, Block & Tackle organizational design, influencing competencies (I am not talking about social influence here), results oriented, Process Management, Project Management, how to develop a business case, communication skills, ability to work in “white space”, etc…
It’s not about the social media tools and individual tactics of marketing or platforms.  Community Management is an amazingly effective, efficient, and powerful discipline to get things done (or achieve a goal).  Anyone can be a Community Manager.

For all of those who consider yourselves Community Managers, I applaud you.  Not everyone gets what you do, sees the value of your efforts, and can empathize with your struggles.  Much of our knowledge is still tacit, and it is difficult to articulate.  Remember that we work (and live) in a social bubble that not everyone has entered yet or will, their understanding is still nascent.   But try not exclude, try to include more.  Help others understand the discipline of Community Management, and how they can contribute to broader objectives.  Also, let them help you with your broader competency, discipline, and skill development.  I think it will help everyone appreciate what you do a little bit more.

This was definitely a “soapbox” post, just needed to let a rant out.

High five image credit: http://www.wilterdink.com/Internet_High_Five.jpg

1 Social Business Post – 3 Feet – 3 Boobs

By michaelpace on July 25, 2012

What the hell happened last Friday in the social business world? Did the planets align to erase the business brains of people at the customer facing keyboards of 3 disparate companies? Alien hackers took over twitter and customer relationship accounts? Or did 3 companies just get lazy while working in the connected world?

While I do think weirdness happens outside of our little world, my money is on the latter (laziness).

Story 1: How to shove your own foot up your ass

I originally heard the story from Social Media Explorer in a post called Customer Service Isn’t An Act. It’s a Trait. To make a (interesting) long story short, @solve360 chose to pick a fight on their social network instead of helping a customer, and possibly a future business partner. See below: Solve360 conversation with customers

For more details head to Megan’s Meanderings

Lessons Learned:

In my opinion, this is a company culture issue. From bottom to top, this company does not understand service (which doesn’t bode well for a Customer Relationship Management software company). They choose to see service as an unwelcomed cost of doing business, instead of looking at it as an opportunity to help a customer, build a relationship, move a challenger to a champion, or even just retain a current customer. While this may be random incident or everyone was having a case of the Mondays, but Solve360 may want to take a step back, get clear on their Values and decide if retention and loyalty are critical to a cloud or SAAS company (guess what – it is).

Story 2: How to shoot yourself in the foot

This Twitter post is from the NRA (National Rifle Association) the morning of the Aurora murders.

@NRA_Rifleman tweet

On the surface, it appears to be horribly disrespectful and frankly disgusting. The post was deleted from their Twitter stream not long after posting, but what happens on the internet stays on the internet. However, I believe there is more to this story. My assumption is this was a scheduled tweet, scheduled well before we learned of the events in Aurora.

Lessons Learned:

Scheduling tweets is a perfectly acceptable practice of social business. It allows you to create conversations off hours, reach different sets of audiences, and smooth out the workload for your conversation agents. Scheduling is a shortcut; shortcuts are needed. However, every shortcut comes at a risk (otherwise it would not be a shortcut). Like any other area of business, you need to understand your risks, determine what is acceptable, transferrable, or worth creating mitigation steps. In the NRA’s (controversial) line of business, it is sad to say that incidents like last Friday’s massacre can happen at any time. While I would not stop scheduling, I would ensure they have a crisis management plan in place, and understand their roles in executing.

On another note, I think they were smart in deleting the tweet, but they missed an equally important step, admitting to their mistake. As of this date, I have not seen an apology tweet or link (it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist). They may have even deleted the entire account name, as it is no longer exists on Twitter. A simple, accountable explanation with an apology and thoughts toward the impacted families/friends would have gone a long way.

Story 3: You Put Your Foot in My Mouth

By now many folks have heard and/or seen the @Celebboutique tweet from last Friday, only a mere few hours after the horrific tragedy in an Aurora, CO movie theater. I think the picture above speaks to the shear ignorance of person at the helm of their twitter account. I am not here to beat a dead horse; I am here to help with the lessons learned. @celebboutique tweet

Post the immediate public uproar, @Celebboutique tried to apologize. @celebboutique follow up

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Lessons Learned:

It is clear that @Celebboutique outsources their twitter handle to an offshore PR agency. Outsourcing can be good; offshore outsourcing can be better. Outsourcing usually allows companies to move many overhead costs to parties who specialize in a specific operation, therefore opening up funds and/or space to move their business forward in other areas. I have a few rules of outsourcing effectively:
1. You never outsource your core competency or value proposition
2. Your relationship with your outsourcer needs to be ACTIVELY managed; it is not an “off the side of the desk” activity
3. Cultural compatibility is more important than all the money talk that follows in the selection process
4. Outsource customer facing solutions at your OWN RISK

Based on the follow up tweets from @Celebboutique, they did not heed to my rules of effective outsourcing.
Their last mistake in the myriad of mistakes was their placing blame on their foreign outsourcer. When I interact with a company, I see it as a single entity. For example, if I shop at Costco, I do not think about how it affects their supply chain department, marketing, or human resources; it is just Costco. As a consumer, I have enough brands occupying my attention; I don’t separate companies into divisions. Regardless, if @Celebboutique hit the enter key or not, it was their company’s mistake; own it.

Why NPS should stand for Near Pointless Scoring

By michaelpace on February 28, 2012

NPS and Behavioral scoring model

Just stop for a second and answer a question for yourself:

Why are you measuring Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

  • Does it provide you the best insight to your customer’s satisfaction?
  • Maybe you read The Ultimate Question six years ago, and have found your silver bullet to customer service?
  • Or your boss told you to do it?

Does anyone else struggle with what to do with a score of 27 when last month was a 29?

Do you end up looking at all the verbatim to understand the differences?

Do you ever wonder if someone’s score of 6 is another person’s 8?

Just stop again, and think why are you tracking NPS; for what purpose are you asking people “would you recommend our services/product to a colleague, friend or family?”

(Most probably) The reason you ask this question is to understand “how likely is my company going to retain you as a customer?”  If that was the question you needed the answer, would you consider possible other ways to skin the cat?  The primary purpose of Customer Service departments is to retain customers.  Yes, great customer service can fill the top of the funnel with new, super-qualified and efficient leads. (Learn more about the traditional funnel and how to Flip the Funnel) However, if Customer Service is not focused first on retaining customers, they become a worthless cost center.  Let me be clear, there are clearly differences how companies approach retention (ex. Zappos and <insert name> cable company).  Back to the heart of the matter; if you step back there are more ways than just NPS to answer the question “how likely is my company going to retain you as a customer”.  It is not the silver bullet.

One recent trend that has peaked my interest is customer behavior scoring.  This scoring uses variables, determined by the organization, that help leaders, management, and agents understand how often engage with your product or service, how effective customers are at using your product/service, and how much of your full suite of solutions are they utilizing.  By leveraging behavioral data, you take the subjectivity out of scoring.  This methodology is gaining steam with SaaS model businesses.  For example, you should be able to infer a customer’s likelihood of retention or attrition by understanding how often they log into your application.  This data can be presented in more raw form to analyst teams to create proactive programs and/or fed to front line associates with specific actions to take if contact is made.  There is considerably more actions that can be taken based on behavioral data than from subjective Net Promoter Scoring.  A Boston based company Apptegic is making some nice progress bringing these tools to market.

And while I think behavioral scoring is incredibly interesting, I am not sure it is the answer either.  However, if you are able combine the emotional and subjective scoring with the behavioral and objective scoring, you start to see a much clearer picture of an actual customer.  Emotional scoring (NPS/CSAT) measures the depth of the relationship, and behavioral scoring can measure interaction; together you get what I would call an Engagement Score.

NPS and Behavioral scoring model

And it gets even more interesting if and when you are able to understand the potential impacts of their social graphs.

NPS, behavioral and social graph

Now, you have a clear understanding of who your brand advocates are, and can develop programs to leverage their enthusiasm and the power of their voice.   You can also be more prepared if you have active participants with loud voices who are more likely to comment on displeasure.  Once you understand which box your customer is in, you can develop effective actions to be taken by your leadership, marketing and floor associates.

All I am trying to say is NPS is not the only game in town.  We should all be questioning why we do things.  And finally, if you get to the root of you quest (the why), we can develop solutions that meet and exceed our needs in this dynamic landscape.

Are you fed up with NPS?

Are you using another customer scoring system that is working for your business?

Does a combination score lead us closer to a “silver bullet”?

Is it time to flip Customer Service on its side? – along with Marketing, Sales, Product, etc…

Inception: Flipping Customer Service on it's sideBy michaelpace on february 15, 2012

I am not sure who originally designed how organizations should be aligned. Maybe it was the armies of the past, the mafia or some random Joe who gets no credit for how 99% of businesses are structured today. There is a Marketing Department, Sales, Customer Service, Product, IT, Human Resources, Accounting and each have their own little silos of metrics and goals. Great companies typically have a global vision, and each of the departments work together to develop an integrated strategy to deliver the vision and, more specifically, yearly goals. Each department outlines initiatives that have positive and negative impacts to budgets. They eventually get approval and proceed to execute. But what are the goals they are executing against? The goals that relate only to each department. The hope is, magically, the sum of the parts will add up to corporate goals. So Marketing starts executing on their acquisition and loyalty strategies. Sales works on their acquisition goals. Product may lead the pack or follow Marketing and Sales lead. And Customer Service takes all the flow down and tries to deliver something that more often than not, looks like adequate to good customer service.

This methodology has been in place for more than 100 years, so it obviously works well. And I am just some poor customer service blogging schmuck from Massachusetts. But why do we align this way? Why do we accept it? Skill set? Competencies? Scalability? Mentorship? Obviously, it is not to deliver a common goal. Maybe it is time to realign (yes, before the apocalypse of 2012). What if we flipped everything on its side, and aligned by organizational goals? (horizontal mambo baby!)

R & R Department (Retention and Referral)

This department is purely focused on keeping customers and making it easy for them to recommend your product, service or brand. If in some parallel universe someone asked you to deliver on goals, as stated above, would you really align by historical standards? Probably not, you might organize as follows:

Marketing:

  • Focused on maintaining communication and relationships with current customers
  • Developing loyalty programs
  • Incentives to deliver referrals
  • Communications to improve Average Revenue Per Unit or Customer
  • Communicating and partnering with other R & R areas to act as 1 unit

Product:

  • Delivering solutions to know bugs, enhancements and issues
  • End recipient of Voice of the Customer (VoC) program
  • Communicating and partnering with other R & R areas to act as 1 unit

Customer Service:

  • Act as the primary point of contact for customers to interact with the organization
  • Execute on retention, loyalty and referral strategies
  • Serve the customer
  • Cross sell value
  • Community Management
  • Be the primary internal resource to additions to the Voice of the Customer program

Sales:

  • Accountable for established relationship management, specifically in B2B sales

Acquisition Department

The Acquisition Department is purely focused on the acquisition of new customers. This department doesn’t look too much different than today, since acquisition for some odd reason typically has priority over Retention and Average Revenue Per Customer – even though 5 billion studies prove it cost considerably less to retain a customer than to acquire.

Actually, I don’t need to go over the following areas again. Just take what they do today, and remove the stated above responsibilities.

Broader infrastructure departments (IT, HR, G&A, etc…) would continue with Business As Usual, however they may want to align their resources to specific departments (R&R, Acquisition & General)

Aftermath

Now because you have “dis”organized, you will need to fill the potential gaps in skill set and competency development, leveraging scale and competing resources. Circle of Excellence teams can provide the forums for both the skill development and communication. In my own humble opinion, I would rather matrix these responsibilities than to matrix goals.

There are a lot of ways we work that exist only because that is how it’s been done for 100 years or 10 years (don’t get me started today on Net Promoter Scoring), but that doesn’t mean we need to continue or not try different ways to get things done. Even something as predictable as how an organization is aligned should be subject to questioning and asking the question of why do we do this?

Is anyone actually organized this way?

What are the other possibilities with this scenario?

Am I a little crazy?

Image credit: Warner Bros.

Social Star Wars Saga Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

By michaelpace on November 10, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all of you fantastic nerds.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I love what I do.  I [attempt to] thrill customers who choose “alternative” channels to receive their customer service or voice their opinions.  By alternative, I mean non-typical call center service; I lead Knowledge Management, Social and Community Support, and Process Management/Service Recovery teams.  I also have the good fortune to serve on the Board of Directors for the North East Contact Center Forum, and occasionally speak at conferences.   For the past 22 months, I have straddled the space between the Customer Service/Experience and the Social Business/Media worlds, and have had the opportunity to meet incredible people from both sides, but rarely do they meet in the middle.  Social “Media” is hot in the Call Center/Customer Service arena right now, but for the audience of this post (see above) I have some strong words for you:

Stop trying to operationalize Social Customer Service (for now)

Stop asking these questions:

–          What kind of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) do we need?

–          How many people should we staff this with?

–          How can we calculate workforce management requirements?

–          How do I monitor quality?

–          How can tools (SCRM) answer the previous questions?

–          ETC…

If you are in the industry that provides these answers, stop answering the questions.

You cannot operationalize something you do not understand.  You may know how to swing a hammer, but that doesn’t make you a carpenter; it only makes you dangerous.   You need to understand the why and how of social business/media/tools before you get to the what.  Social business is very different than traditional linear business practices, there are multiple layers (called relationships).

Start asking these types of questions:

–          How can my team and I get involved in social business/media?

–          What communities or other conversation areas should we listen to and participate in?

–          Where are my customers talking now?  Where will they be?

–          What are some great resources for my team to find more information about this subject?

–          How do I conduct low-risk experiments?

–          How do I involve others departments in these initiatives?

–          ETC…

Once you understand the art of social business, you can start understanding the science (or start operationalizing your social presence).  Spend a couple months understanding the answers to the second set of questions.  You will know when you are ready, trust me, my “aha” moment hit me over the head like the hammer I was discussing earlier.  There are plenty of resources out there for help, build relationships with them, and you are always more than welcome to ping me.

So, what kind of questions do you find yourself asking (and answering) – Operational or Involvement related?

P.S. I do know operationalizing is not really a word, but you know what I mean.

P.S.S.  Great video for all leaders and readers on starting with Why from TED.

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Revenge of the Sith - Social Star Wars

Social Star Wars Saga Episode I: The Phantom Menace

By michaelpace on November 7, 2011

Pre-prequel: With the recent release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray, I feel compelled to finally put together my official Social Star Wars Blog Saga. Enjoy all you fantastic nerds.

As I mentioned in my last video post, one of the most popular questions asked of me by customer service leaders and people interested in social business is “What’s the ROI (Return on Investment) you are seeing with social media for customer service?” I love that question.  Folks seem to need to know that answer to move from social paralysis to engagement.

When asked here’s my first reply, ”Have you figured out the ROI of your bathroom?” (not sure where I got that from, but would love to give credit one day).  I reply with that rhetorical response for two reasons

1.) it breaks their conditioning and makes them stop

2.) the answer to that question is the same as the previous

I will usually ask them if they know the ROI of their broader Customer Service Department; which again usually provides the same answer.  It is really no different than if your customers were calling you and you didn’t pick up the phone, except they are also telling everyone who follows their messages.  It is becoming a business necessity.  The primary goal of customer service is customer retention, avoiding their contacts will not serve your retention goals.  As for actionable advice I give to customer service leaders, I provide two thoughts.

Focus on ROO (Return on Objectives) not ROI

Social business practices are still in their infancy, focus should be balanced between broader business goals, your learning agenda and metrics.  I like the way Jason Falls explains it in his new book No Bullshit Social Media.  Look at how social media helps your broader business goals:

  • Enhance branding and awareness
  • Protect brand reputation
  • Enhance public relations
  • Build community
  • Enhance customer service (VOC and general service)
  • Facilitate research and development
  • Drive leads and sales

Your learning agenda should include:

  • How to scale this operation
  • Cross department interactions
  • What kind of people are right for this role
  • What is needed from a content management standpoint
  • What infrastructure is needed to support

If social media is about Engagement, measure Customer Lifetime Value

I am sure there are lots of ways to measure CLV, here’s how I do:

Acquisition: What was the cost of acquisition? Is this customer referring others?

Retention: You need to have them as a customer gain value (duh)

Average Spend/Time period: How much and often do they spend money with your business

Profitability: Is this customer costing you too much to keep or are they efficient for your business (uses self service and community platforms for service)

I understand many business leaders want to understand how much allocating resources to social customer service will cost them and what will they get in return.  If you need to create a business case, I would use all of the above information (both soft and hard numbers) to make your case.  But the best way you can make the case is find out what your customers are saying to and about you and tell the story of why you need to play here.

May the force be with you, always.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Crawl Creator

Phantom Menace - Social Star Wars

 

Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Media Wave

Waiting for the social wave

By michaelpace on August 19, 2011

Ok, show of hands (and be honest, I can see you through your webcam), does your company provide social customer service through your actual customer service department?

Or does Marketing handle it; or some other department or combo? During a webinar hosted by Jeremiah Owyang (a must follow) earlier this month, he stated that roughly in 70% of the cases, Marketing handles social media, including customer service inquiries. In my own experience speaking with customer service executives and at conferences, I estimate less than 10% of customer service departments handle support related inquires or comments. Why? Why are you not riding the Social Customer Service wave or are you waiting for the wave to crash into you?

Reason #1: Marketing owns and handles social

Background or Myth: Marketing should handle social media stuff because of possible public relation issues, social media is a marketing job, or it’s just always been that way.

Reality: Social media is a tool of social business, similar to your phone system being a tool for your customer service. You probably don’t own the phone system, and Marketing probably doesn’t need your permission to use the phone. If individuals are afraid of a public relations issue being created through social media, do they monitor all of your outgoing emails and chats? An email or a chat is equally “socialable” through their own technology or in combination with other social networks. Similar to email and chat technology channels, best practices, process and clear roles and responsibilities are needed to execute effectively. Your customer service team is best equipped to handle service inquiries and provide content that helps educate your customers. And anytime someone tells you it’s always been done that way, you know it’s time for a change.

Reason #2: If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

Background or Myth: You know there are millions of people on social sites like Facebook, but they are not talking about our brand or service (or at least we haven’t heard it).

Reality: If you are not listening, how can you know if someone is talking about or to you? Have you ever put your company name (or variations of) into Google Blog Search or into Twitter’s Search? There are tremendous amount of free tools to use to listen to understand if people are talking to you or about you. I prefer Hootsuite for Twitter and Google Alerts for everything else on the web. It’s now common place for people to express their opinions to their friends, family and followers on the web, and it will only become more common. Per Socialnomics, ½ of the world’s population is under 30, they do not know what life was like before the internet (think about it).

Reason #3: Not a valuable use of time or resources

Background or Myth: As compared to our other channels, social media related channels are such a small percentage of our overall volume.

Reality: The previous statement is both true and false. It is true for an actual physical count of tweets, Facebook posts, blogs commenting on your business, and LinkedIn discussions, but it does not accurately reflect the impact. For example, at Constant Contact (where I work), the average person tweeting positively or negatively about us has approximately 1300 followers. Over the course of 2010, there were almost 1,000,000 impressions of positive or negative commentary. Now not all of those impressions were influential, but even if a small portion (10% or 100,000) were influential, doesn’t it make sense for you to be a part of those conversations?

Reason #4: We are in a regulated industry; we could break laws by talking about personal accounts publicly

Background or Myth: In many industries, such as healthcare and financial services, public “discussion” of personal information can land your company in a heap of legal and compliance trouble. This statement is true, but there are reasons to still get engaged.

Reality: Probably the most valuable aspect of social customer service (at this point) is pure acknowledgement of being heard. If someone mentions you on the social web, you should still acknowledge their message and then offer to take it to a more secure channel. If you need to track even these minimal conversations, you can do it manually or if you have the scale, most CRMs now are available with social tools integrated into their workcase management. Regulated industries are typically complicated, which also makes them ripe for proactive outbound communications to your customers about your products and services. Blogs, branded communities, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn provide fantastic platforms for educational content that can be pulled from existing sources like your knowledge base or marketing materials.

Reason #5: Getting started is too overwhelming

Background or Myth: There is very limited data or information on how to get started in social customer service, let alone operationalizing it.

Reality: Yes, getting up and running in social customer service is a sizeable task, but like other large initiatives, if you break it down it can be less daunting. Below is my high level work breakdown structure:

  1. Get yourself involved in social media
  2. Know your business strategy/what are your objectives/guidelines More information on steps 1 & 2
  3. Listen to your customers
  4. Customer Conversation
    • Develop SLA’s
    • Know your brand (big difference in Tiffany & Co.’s & Zappos corporate voice)
    • Engage your customers
  5. Workflow, Catalog & Tracking
  6. Developing & delivering proactive contentSocial Wave

Customer service leaders have a choice, try to stand strong against the incoming wave, and hope it does not knock you over (or provide a competitive disadvantage), or pick up your board, paddle out and ride the wave. This trend may not have all the same tools at the end of the day, but the premise of social business will remain, and become more prevalent in our lives and the lives of our future customers.

To chat with a bunch of other smart people about the topic of social customer service, and getting started, join me, Brad Cleveland, Bob Furniss & Todd Hixon for a tweetchat presented by ICMI on Tuesday, 8/23 @ 6:30 pm CST – follow hashtag #CCDemo11 for up to date details and more information.

 

Wave Image Credit http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/people,solitary/Interesting

Surfing image http://juice-up.blogspot.com/2010/11/surfing.html