Social Customer Service in E-Commerce
By: Robert Spence
Customer service has become one of the most dynamic areas in social media. It has transformed back-office function and placed it square in the limelight, allowing both small and large businesses to provide real-time, public assistance to customers across the web. The newfound social media era has arrived and is empowering consumers to voice their praise, concern or disapproval for businesses through sites like Facebook and Twitter.
According to a survey conducted by Zendesk (a customer support software), 72 percent of customers said customer service was what made them loyal to a particular brand or business. Companies who try to make their mark on social media but ignore or attempt to block incoming customer conversation are inevitably failing. While responding to every question and issue is a time consuming process, it’s necessary and becoming more fundamental in this today’s age of e-commerce.
One Brand, One Voice
When you reply to a fan on social media, the response is coming from the brand. Unlike private emails, customer questions and company responses are public. What you say to your customers and how quickly you do so is visible for the world to see and judge. Customers are taking to sites like Twitter and Facebook for customer service requests in ever-increasing numbers—and this is only going to get stronger. Tone of voice and usefulness of responses are much more critical for social networks than for traditional, private customer support systems.
Read related content:
- E-Commerce 101: How to Get Started
- Using Social Media to Grow Customer Base and Attract Clients
- Top Five Social Media Sites For Business
Make sure when responding to customer questions via social networks to always represent the brand appropriately. Never ignore questions or criticism. The impact on your brand of ignoring these is much more damaging than the pain of re-evaluating your approach to social media. By 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful as ignoring emails or phone calls are today.
Hertz Rental Car Company recently integrated social customer service into their business and customers can now resolve service problems by tweeting at the brand.
The Front Line
Every online business has a responsibility to the customer. Those who field incoming client communication play a powerful role in providing superior customer service. Why? Because first responders are the front line of your brand. They are the first impression customers receive and are vital to how future customers view your brand. According to a recent infographic by Multichannel Merchant, a one percent improvement in first call responses lead to $276,000 in annual operational savings for the average call center SQM benchmark. Small efficient gains like this can have a big effect on a company’s top or bottom line and reduce customers at risk by a measure that is typically 5-10x greater.
Social customer service can either help your business immensely or reveal fatal flaws, leaving customers with a terrible taste in their mouth never to return. While social media is still a platform for brands to provide updates, products and promotions, it’s becoming a major stage for brands to return customer questions and take the necessary action to assist them. Customer service is no longer about responding to complaints that you receive; it is about actively listening, monitoring and engaging with brand mentions online. Use it wisely.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”