Archive for the ‘customer service issues’ tag
The Semantic Web’s promise is about developing common frameworks that allows data to be shared and reused across applications and platforms. At its heart comes the understanding that applications are loosely coupled. The apps connect with APIs that form a sort of glue. The data moves between these apps, which is increasingly analyzed to discover its meaning and value.
You can see this in action to some extent with Salesforce.com Radian 6 and its “insights” technology for measuring social data from online conversations in multiple languages.
The new capability comes through the partnerships with eight companies. Klout, OpenAmplify and OpenCalais are now joined in the ecosystem by Clarabridge for text sentiment analysis, Lymbix for emotion and tone classification, PeekAnalytics for social audience measurement, Solariat for social intention analysis, and new capabilities from OpenAmplify for customer service insights.
Here’s an example of the Clarabridge text analysis:
The new feature capabilities include: sentiment analysis; natural language processing; online influence; demographic analysis and analytics through what Salesforce.com calls intelligence dashboards.
It allows for people to discover the depth of conversation about a particular product or service. For example, it can show what people are saying online about printers and then drilling down further to discover particular customer service issues:
Salesforce Radian 6 shows the value that comes with loosely coupled environments. It has developed an ecosystem that relies on APIs to connect the different pieces. The result is an example of what we can learn about the semantics of what people are saying through text analysis and other means.
If you have an angry customer on your hands, things can get very ugly and very public, very fast. It doesn’t even matter if the customer is unreasonable or has their facts all wrong, a single negative post on a Facebook page can turn into a media nightmare overnight.
Still, the latest from eMarketer shows that only 49% of companies in a recent survey track and follow-up on customer’s social media feedback. Those that don’t follow-up are playing with fire, risking not only future sales, but their whole reputation.
It happened to Pampers, to FedEx, to Best Buy and hundreds of big name companies. Companies that can afford to hire PR saviors and lawyers to get them out of the mess. But what about the small business owner who lives and dies by every sale? That’s where monitoring and responding to social media buzz is imperative.
As you can see from the chart, customers are turning to social media with their customer service issues for a variety of reasons. The number one reason, “seeking an actual response from a company about a service issue,” worries me. It implies that people have lost faith in the usual channels like email and the phone.
Take a moment to consider your own customer service reply level. How quickly do you respond to emails? How personalized are your responses. I’ve seen plenty of canned answers that don’t solve my problem. How dedicated is your staff to actually making the customer happy?
It’s nice to see that customers go online to say good things, too. The number three reason “sharing information” could be good or bad, depending. Then we have the 46% of people who just want to vent. I’m in there about once a month. That’s my response to a company that has pushed me so far I want the whole world to know about it.
These venting posts are often the ones that get picked up by bloggers and journalists and soon a single comment becomes a firestorm of hatred.
Look, you can’t stop people from posting bad things about your company. But you can be pro-active about providing good customer service and following up on issues in a timely manner. Sometimes, all it takes is letting the customer know that you heard them and you’ll do better in the future.
Take some time this afternoon to review your social media sites. Read the comments, search for your company name on Twitter and Google. In other words, seek out those unhappy customers, don’t run from them, or they could ruin you.
What this means? It’s getting easier than ever to get your questions answered or customer service issues resolved. It also points to the blurring lines between work apps and personal ones. And without question, it shows how our work and personal lives criss cross more than ever.
Customers get the same experience that comes with sending messages on Facebook. As with any private message, only the recipient and the sender see the information passed between the two.
Here is how it looks for customers:
Customer agents using Zendesk see this when messages come in:
In December, Zendesk launched its original Facebook integration that makes it possible for wall conversations to turn into Zendesk tickets. Inversely, a customer service agent may respond by sending a message that appears on Facebook as a wall post.
Get ready for more of these new services. A few years ago, Salesforce.com first started using Facebook as a way for its clients to communicate with customers. In the next 12 to 18 months, we can expect a wave of acquisitions as the concept of customer experience management begins to mature. SAP and Oracle will go head to head. Both recently acquired SaaS providers. Oracle acquired RightNow, which also had one of the earliest Facebook integrations and SAP acquired Success Factors.
The Zendesk service is a smart one. It means its clients can communicate with customers im a place that’s fast and convenient. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than running a call center.
Facebook, the king of unannounced changes, has added a Call button to some profile pages. There’s no picture on the button and no description of what will happen when you click it – so I did and got a box saying I need to set up Video Chat in order to chat with the person whose button I pushed.
As usual, the rhyme of reason of who has the button and who doesn’t eludes me. According the the Facebook Video Calling FAQ page, two of my friends have video calling enabled. Neither has a Call button. Only one friend had a Call button even though he apparently doesn’t have video calling enabled.
Oh, the madness.
Obviously, Facebook is hoping that more people will use video chat if that button is right there reminding them of how easy it can be. I’m a Skype fan but I’ve never tried Facebook’s service, but then again, I’m sure I’m not the intended target.
Where this gets interesting is if they put the Call button on Pages. That would give people an option of reaching a human being for customer service issues right from Facebook. I mean, if we’re really talking about Facebook becoming a viable spot for ecommerce, then a Call button could go a long way toward making customers trust the page. Even if I never use it, it’s nice to know that there’s an easy contact option should my order go astray.
Will Call buttons show up on brand pages? Probably not, because as much as everyone talks about the importance of Facebook for business, business always feels like an afterthought. I get that the network was set up to connect friends to friends but now that brands have settled in to stay, it seems like Facebook could do more to make them feel at home.
Getting back to the Call button, it’s likely that more people will use it if they see it every time they log in. Not me, but people.
Have you tried Facebook’s video chat option? Would you use it for business or do you prefer to keep your face to yourself?
It’s an interesting story.
One day, Dave Carroll was taking a flight with his band-mates on United Airlines. When he landed at his destination, he noticed that United staff were throwing his $3,500 Taylor guitar around, and ultimately, damaging it pretty badly.
When United did nothing to help, Carroll took matters into his own hands with the help of a little video sharing site called YouTube.
His music video, “United Breaks Guitars,” took off like a rocket, and after realizing the power of social media, he joined up with his other co-founders to build Gripevine.
The service basically connects customers with businesses when they have customer service issues. Businesses can sign up to hear complaints and resolve them in an open, transparent fashion. Not only does the consumer get a chance to voice their issue to the company and the world, but the company gets the chance to make it up to the user publicly.
It’s a win-win.
Customer support software in the cloud provider Freshdesk helped itself grab a $5 million in funding, the company reported Thursday.
Freshdesk gets that you’d rather be liking your friend’s drunk vacation photos on Facebook than sitting on the phone with customer service because your computer won’t hold a charge. That’s why the company uses Facebook and Twitter for customer service purposes, along with email and phone call support. It provides help desk and ticketing services that can be used with just an email content — no need to log into the service directly.
The company competes directly with ZenDesk, a similar help desk and ticketing service. ZenDesk also uses Facebook and Twitter to process customer service issues and requests.
The new funding, led by Tiger Global with Accel Partners participating, will be used to build the engineering team and add new product features.
Freshdesk has offices in Los Angeles and India. The company launched in July 2011.
Angry customer service call image via Shutterstock
News happens in a flash, and thanks to social media, it travels even faster. So when an issue arises in social media, whether it’s a breaking news story or a customer complaint, you need to be agile enough to respond in real time.
Why is it important to be fast? According to StatCounter, the half-life of a shared link on Facebook is about 3.2 hours (the point in time when a link has garnered half of the engagement it will ever get). On Twitter it’s even lower at 2.8 hours.
In other words, engagement around a given link or topic is fleeting, so you have to be quick to respond if you want to capitalize on or quell the hoopla around a subject on social media. So here are some tips to help you be a more agile social media marketer that can both capitalize on social opportunities, and repair brand damage — but hopefully more often, it’s the former.
Set Up Social Monitoring
You can’t quell social media PR disasters or leverage new opportunities without, duh, knowing about those disasters and opportunities. So unless you want to spend the entire day clicking refresh on your Twitter stream, implementing some social media monitoring technology is the best way to stay on top of the conversations.
According to Zendesk, 62% of consumers have used social media for customer service issues. And if you don’t use social media for customer service, news flash: consumers will do it anyway. And when customers take to Twitter, Facebook and the like with an issue, they expect a response immediately. To stay on top of these mentions and respond to them in timely manner, set up an alert or use HubSpot’s social media prospects tool to help you monitor mentions of your brand and competitors.
The subject of social media monitoring is enough to take up an ebook (seriously, we wrote an ebook on how to monitor your social media), but if you don’t have time to go through that now, here’s the bare minimum you should be doing to monitor your social media:
- Set up mentions of your brand name, product name, and the names of company figureheads to get alerts when you’re being discussed on social media.
- Set up mentions of your competitors’ brand names, product names, and their figureheads to get alerts when they’re being discussed on social media.
- Evaluate the sentiment of those mentions so you know if you’re dealing with a PR problem, or if you have the opportunity to upsell to a current customer or even poach a lead from a competitor.
- Monitor social media accounts, even if you are not active on them. Remember, just because your company doesn’t have a Twitter account, doesn’t mean consumers won’t take to the Twittersphere to talk about you, your competitors, or your industry.
Set Up a Crisis Response Plan
Now that you’re better equipped to identify a social media PR problem (we’ll get to the opportunities later, let’s just get the disasters out of the way first), implement a plan for dealing with crises once they arise on social media. Planning agility may sound like an oxymoron, but having a process in place will help you stay agile without backing yourself further into a corner. Here’s what your crisis response plan should include:
- Determine what constitutes a crisis for your company. For some, a crisis may be a customer cancelling — for others, that’s already part of their everyday social media monitoring. Think about the negative instances specific to your business for which you don’t already have a plan in place to handle on social media.
- Assign team members (and back-ups) to be responsible for each instance. For example, you may have determined your company has 3 potential types of crisis: customer cancellations, website problems, and negative reviews. You might send negative reviews and customer cancellation mentions to customer service, while website problems go to IT. Tell whoever monitors your social media to triage problems that come in and send them to the point person, in order of priority.
- In the event that complex situations arise, you may want to draft a holding statement. A holding statement is something you can put up on your website or blog that lets your audience know you’re working on a large-scale issue and will update them when you have more information. The best holding statements will let your audience know when they can expect the next update — for example, “each hour” or “by 3:00 PM EST”, and where they can go for more information — like your Twitter account.
If you don’t have an answer for someone immediately or need more information from the sender, respond right away to say you’d like to help and want to get in touch via phone or email — always move complex complaints to more appropriate communications channels. Put yourself in your customers shoes. In the event of a crisis, what information would you need to trust that the situation is being handled well? How often would you want to hear from the company? Often it’s not lack of answers, but lack of communication that can turn a crisis from bad to worse.
Balance Speed With Knowledge
Being agile on social media goes beyond just responding first; in fact, a speedy response that isn’t well informed can do more damage than good. So how do you ramp up your knowledge on an emerging theme or topic — whether a customer service snafu, a new competitive offering, or an exciting news story — so you can process it and react quickly?
Always start by going straight to the source. Often you’ll hear about something first through a third party channel like a tweet or blog post, but these usually only offer a small glimpse of the entire picture. If you’re dealing with a news story about a new Facebook feature, for example, scan the story for a link to the Facebook post that explains how the new feature works so you can be sure you don’t mistake one journalist’s interpretations for fact. This fact checking is necessary for customer service problems, too — check with the designated contact from your crisis response plan to hear their side of the story. The more context you have, the more informed your response!
If you’re looking to newsjack a story — a great way to use your new agile social media superpowers — use social media to seek out quick opinions, too. Twitter or community answer forums like Quora, LinkedIn Answers and Focus are great tools to take a rapid survey of a particular audience’s thoughts on a topic. You can also search for existing opinions on the topic by following hashtags and setting up Google alerts to ping you as the conversation evolves.
This research becomes particularly important as a story or meme begins to take shape. Other blogs and companies will undoubtedly start to write on it, but that shouldn’t deter you from publishing your own content around the subject. Performing this research will let you find a unique angle to the story that relates to your business, industry, or audience’s pain point. Alternatively, you can set yourself apart by talking about it on unique channels or through distinct formats, like Pinterest or on videos and podcasts.
Look for Out-of-the-Box Opportunities
Sometimes you’ll get struck with a bolt of creative genius, and find opportunities to align your brand with something happening in the news in a valuable way. For example, on what would have otherwise been a sleepy Tuesday night last week, a fire erupted in a Boston transformer station. Thankfully no one was injured, but the fire resulted in a massive black-out in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Traffic lights were out and the subway stopped running briefly. Meanwhile, Twitter activity and media interest around the story surged (no surprise there).
That’s where Uber Boston, a car service, leveraged agile social media marketing like a superstar. They were quick to respond, offering half-off rides to and from the Back Bay. The offer, which was intended to support Back Bay residents and businesses, quickly spread across Twitter and got picked up by local blogs and news outlets.
— Uber Boston (@Uber_BOS) March 15, 2012
The Capital Grille, facing the possibility of having the meat from their Back Bay restaurant go unrefrigerated, also decided to get creative. They called the Southwick Zoo and arranged to donate $20,000 worth of top-notch meat to the zoo’s lions. They filmed the whole process and posted the story on their Facebook wall. The story was picked up by multiple local news networks and spread via Twitter, racking up 331 “likes” and 51 comments on their Facebook page alone.
— BackBay @ Boston.com (@YourBackBay) March 15, 2012
Both of these companies saw an opportunity in the unexpected blackout and leveraged it to attract new attention to their brands on social media. Campaigns of this nature can add depth to an ongoing story and, do some good, and get your brand exposure to a new audience by aligning yourself with an event otherwise usually to your product or service offering.
Use Technology to Make Updating Quick & Simple
To be an agile social media marketer, you need to think and act at the speed of light. But if you’re spending time switching back and forth between all your social media accounts to post your updates, you’re going to fall behind in a frazzled frenzy. Luckily, there are a number of tools available that you can add on to your browser window that will enable you to tweet, post to Facebook or otherwise promote content in a more efficient way.
One tool we use is HubSpot’s social media publishing bookmarklet, which enables you to publish something you’re reading to multiple accounts all at once without having to leave the page and go back to HubSpot.
Other add-ons and bookmarklets, like Shareaholic, Buffer App, and Hootsuite can typically be found in your browser’s webstore. (Here’s Chrome’s webstore).
Being more agile in your social media marketing definitely takes a cultural shift within your office. You have to be prepared to put off established plans and postpone meetings in pursuit of an evolving issue or story. To make this a productive practice, it’s important to measure and report on the impact of your efforts. Whenever possible, drive people back to a relevant landing page and measure clicks, inbound traffic and leads generated from your response. And certainly balance real-time responses with long-term, planned marketing campaigns. You’ll need both to establish authority in your space and engage followers in the long-run.
What do you do to stay agile on social media? Share your tips in the comments!
Image credit: Kevin N. Murphy
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Sometimes, social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives customers a voice, allows opportunities to spread your brand’s message, enable natural word-of-mouth marketing, and drive brand awareness and advocacy. On the other hand, it can be a homeland for customer service issues, complaints, protesters, and overall disgruntled people.
When you’re managing an online community, you’re thrown into the depths of customer service — sifting through issues, prioritizing, responding, contacting other departments, solving problems, troubleshooting, and more. In many cases, you are the front lines for all customer-facing relations, which means you have to be prepared. Trust me, I know it can be overwhelming.
The fact is, however, that there are some negative comments that absolutely need to be resolved and there are others that you shouldn’t waste your time on. Here are a few tips to help you prioritize which comments actually need responses and which dissenters in social media you can ignore.
It’s important to remember that being transparent is not the same as divulging personal information.
We have never seen a moment like this on our history. Look at the combined audience of platforms like Blogging, Podcasting, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more. What you are confronted with is a very interesting journal of how we – as a culture – are. There are both personal and professional components to it. Many people think that we are over-sharing, while others think that we’re divulging way too much personal information. If you’re looking to better understand what all of this publicness means, I can highly recommend Jeff Jarvis‘ latest business book, Public Parts.
The brand struggle.
As brands attempt to connect in a more real and human way with their consumers, they’re also struggling and straddling the line of what would be considered a best practice (transparency) while fumbling into a world of asking for too much (or getting too personal). Recently, I came across a major consumer electronics manufacturer’s Facebook Page and was shaking my head in disbelief at the content. Whoever was managing the community was clearly inexperienced. Going back in their timeline, the content was strong and transparent. They were dealing customer service issues, encouraging people to check out new items, asking their opinions on the industry that the brand serves and also provided interesting insights that were not just self-serving marketing blather. From what I can tell, interest in the Facebook Page from the general public seemed to dissipate over the past month, and suddenly the postings were these strange, personal requests. Things like, "so where are the parties at this weekend?" or asking people more personal questions that have no relation to the brand or their product development. You can see by the lack of response that a line had been crossed.
Brands are not people. People are not brands.
If a friend on Facebook asks, "so, what are you plans this weekend?" it makes sense. It doesn’t when a brand does this (unless that brand is in the hospitality industry and trying to get you to come and spend your weekend with them). This is the immaturity of brands as they enter the more social fray. They try to get too personal and instead of it coming off as sincere, it comes off as creepy and pushes people away.
Transparency leads to personal.
If the people who operate on behalf of the brand are transparent in their interactions, then slowly – over time – these people will develop more personal relationships with those who are interacting with them. I think people like Richard Binhammer over at Dell exemplify this. When Dell first became active in Social Media (and they were on there very early on), Binhammer became a lighthouse and because he was truly doing his best to get results and be transparent, people began interacting with him (and many others) that much more. He was being transparent, but it wasn’t overly personal and it (obviously) never crossed the line of divulging information about the company that was not relevant to the interaction. It was also done in a way where Binhammer was transparent but not overly personal about his own, personal, life. It struck the right balance.
We have to be able to take a step back and remember that a lot of these interactions are not only new(ish) for a brand, but it simply wasn’t done all that much before the advent of Social Media (don’t believe me? Then please read The Cluetrain Manifesto). Brands must use real people to have real interactions with the people interested in them. Those real people must know what the brand stands for and how to communicate that. It’s about being transparent without damaging the brand. It’s about being personal within the confines of the brand narrative. And, ultimately, it’s about adding value and being helpful… it’s not about becoming someone’s best friend. It’s also not about being fake or a corporate shill. It must be authentic and transparent. It shouldn’t be creepy.
To what depths do you think a brand should go?
Google has just announced a set of new partnerships with over a dozen niche daily deal providers, which will now be integrated into the Google Offers service, both on the Web and in the Google Shopper mobile applications for iOS and Android. The new Google Offers partners include Dealfind, DoodleDeals, Gilt City, GolfNow, HomeRun, JuiceInTheCity, kgbdeals, Mamapedia, PlumDistrict, PopSugar Shop, ReachDeals, Active.com Schwaggle, TIPPR, and zozi.
Initially, these deals will be only available to those in the San Francisco Bay area, but this feature will soon arrive to other areas, says Google.
These deal providers aren’t all household names, the way Groupon and LivingSocial are today. However, they do target specific audiences, either by geographic region, type of deal or both. For example, Mamapedia targets Bay Area moms, Schwaggle offers fitness-related deals, zozi goes after adventure seekers, and so on.
Not only will Google Offers users be able to discover, be alerted about and pay for deals (via Google Checkout, of course) via Google Offers/Google Shopper, Google will handle the customer service issues for these deal providers, too. Although Google isn’t saying how many customer support reps it has on hand to do this, Eric Rosenblum, Director of Product Management for Google Offers, says Google’s response time is fast: calls are answered in 5 seconds.
In addition, Google Offers will provide an optional “personalization” quiz that will help Google better customize the types of deals it will sent to you though email and push notifications on Android (and iPhone soon). Says Rosenblum, the quiz is meant to address the “information overload” problem created by signing up for all these deal providers. The deals will still be listed in the Google Offers hub if you want to browse them, but they won’t be in your inbox or pushed to your phone.
For now, this level of deal personalization involves more of a manual effort, but Google has plans to further integrate Offers with other Google services, including Google+ and Gmail. For example, in the future, you may be able to check a box indicating that Google can use your Google Profile information from Google+ to personalize your Offers. It may also start to push those Offers into Gmail by way of the “Gmail message ads” (the ads below your email messages). The idea is that Google will be able to tie together your activity and your usage of all its services to boost your participation with and enjoyment of its daily deals product.
When it comes to the details of these personalization efforts, Google firmly believes that one size doesn’t fit all, Rosenblum explained. Some people will want offers pushed to their mobile phone, some will be actively looking for deals, some people will just want to be surprised. But using its knowledge of your particular demographic infromation will be key to improving the service. ”I think down the road it’s quite important,” he says, “and Google’s approach is to get smarter.”
But what about personalizing the overwhelming influx from LivingSocial and Groupon? Google has nothing to say on that matter for now, only that it’s open to partnerships both “big and small.”
Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps and YouTube. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing them with a rich source of information….