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.
CGI: Driving local solutions with global expertise
Embrace digital transformation and infuse it with a spirit of agility, is the message to the public sector from Aleta Jeffress, CGI Senior Vice President Consulting Services.
“We partner with clients to drive value and innovation,” said Jeffress who has been working with the US City of Mesa, AZ on their digital journey for their local citizens.
Founded in 1976, CGI is one of the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world. It is insights-driven and outcomes-based to help accelerate return on investments. CGI operates across 21 industries in 400 locations and provides scalable and sustainable services that are informed globally and delivered locally.
“We have expertise in developing and executing strategies to help companies transform their IT to align with the business through cloud strategies, application rationalization, modernization and outsourcing,” said Jeffress speaking from the Denver CGI offices.
“Digital change can be exhausting, but take the opportunity to embrace it and look for new opportunities,” said Jeffress who pointed out projects should have a sense of agility and specific focus on the end-user.
“This can be a big culture change for some clients but by making sure your implementations are not a big bang theory but you can take smaller chunks which you’re able to do over and over again as it's just going to continue to evolve,” she said.
Informed globally and delivered locally
Commenting on CGI’s partnership with the City of Mesa, Jeffress said: “We are providing a solution that has a lower cost of ownership and helps them streamline business processes and helps increase efficiency.
“The City sought a single source of truth for their ERP business processes. With CGI Advantage, they found a partner in their digital transformation journey with a configurable, unified solution that supports their HR, financial management, and performance budgeting business processes.
“With CGI Advantage, the City is working with a single source of truth that lowers total cost of ownership, streamlines business processes, and increases efficiency - additional benefits include:
• A decrease in customizations and staffing requirements resulting in faster upgrade cycles.
• Empowering HR resources to focus on strategic efforts by removing the need for manual and duplicate data entry.
• Increased accuracy with reporting.
• Process improvements shifting from customized or paper-based processes to automated processes.
• Increased pay transparency and accuracy by leveraging process improvements and configurable support
A trusted partner
“CGI is a company that focuses very intently and very intentionally on delivery - that is something that really sets us apart,” said Jeffress.
“We have an internal process where we meet with clients twice a year to ask a specific set of questions. How our clients answer those questions allows us to be sure we are aligned and can be a trusted partner with all of our clients.”
“As an international company, we can provide key resources when our clients need it in a very timely manner,” she said.
Reflecting on the challenges posed by COVID-19 Jeffress said there had been a true evolution in technology services.