By Malcolm Gomes and Avinash Chandra Das
Customer service is no longer a private affair. Typically, service requests were resolved, or escalated, privately through traditional call centres and emails. Today, they are public on social media, including complaints and the occasional compliments.
Social media servicing requires skills distinct from the traditional service-channel staff’s, given the amplified impact and unique customer expectations across platforms. Leading organisations have mastered key areas for social media servicing, spanning service strategy, response time, resolution effectiveness, quality of engagement, technology ena-blers, and organisational structure and skills.
An end-to-end strategy, defining platform presence and service windows, works well. It starts with defining the platforms on which the organisation should develop a customer service presence, driven by considerations like customer demographics, service expectations, and existing brand presence. Key decisions on service windows should be agreed upon and aligned to platform characteristics like whether customer service teams will have a 24/7, always-on scheduling system, a 12-hour service window, or operate only during standard business hours.
The main drivers of customer experience include response time, and resolution’s time and effectiveness. Customer engagement best-practice service windows operate 24/7 on key platforms, with the first response in less than 15 minutes.
Social media servicing also requires robust digital workflows enabled by fit-for-purpose technology. Technology should allow for a range of actions and responses, including identifying service-related posts, auto-allocating these to the appropriate servicing teams, gathering information from customers, and providing instant resolutions on platform or off platform through callbacks or email.
As organisations design the right servicing strategy with due emphasis on implementation, it is important to design the right supporting organisational structure as well. Social media servicing teams tend to sit within either the marketing or customer service teams. More successful examples have shown that a combined resp- onse-and-resolution team which includes both marketing and servicing teams tends to work best. The benefits of single ownership and accountability for customer issues and a consistent messaging style result in better customer experience.
Social media is expected to continue its shift toward a full-service channel, outgrowing some of the traditional customer servicing channels. Organisations have this opportunity to build awareness and positive engagement with their brand on social media, and even convert potential detractors into promoters.
Gomes is partner; Das is associate partner at the Bengaluru office of McKinsey & Company