The Freshdesk blog
Your daily dose of
peppermints, orange juice and oatmeal cookies...
Freshly squeezed droplets of customer support...
Your daily dose of
peppermints, orange juice and oatmeal cookies...
Freshly squeezed droplets of customer support...
Aberdeen’s Service Management team is looking to dive deeper into the impact that social media (For research purposes, social media includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Forums, Discussion Boards, Communities etc.) is having on customer support via a new research survey. This survey analyzes:
1. Key trends in the use of social media tools in customer support
2. The benefits from and challenges to be considered while integrating social media into a customer support strategy
3. Best practices in maximizing the impact of social media as a customer management and engagement tool.
If your organization is currently leveraging social tools in support, evaluating their use, or has yet to consider their use, we would welcome your participation in this survey. For spending the time to become a part of our research panel on this topic, Aberdeen will provide a copy of the summary report when published in early October 2012.
Social media tools offer organizations a unique path to engage with their customers and prospects, one that can replace, supplement, or go way beyond the engagement avenues currently available to organizations. Yet, most organizations use social tools solely for marketing purposes. In 2011 research on multi-channel support, only 23% of 180 organizations polled indicated having a social strategy in place for customer service. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of respondents indicated that social as a channel was owned by marketing. However, respondents did indicate that they expected to see a significant uptick in customer discussions around support on social channels and that 52% were either initiating investments in or increasing support for their social customer service initiatives. There is a spectrum of social strategies deployed for support, from listen only, to listen and respond, to listen, respond, analyze and engage, and much more. The impact of these strategies can be extremely significant from a customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability perspective.
Please take the survey by clicking here.
About the Author
Sumair Dutta is the Vice President and Principal Analyst for Service Management at the Aberdeen Group. His coverage areas touch upon customer service strategy, customer experience management, and field service. He can be reached at Sumair.email@example.com or @Aberdeen_CSO on Twitter.
Should you even be asking this? Of course you should be ready to face a Zombie Apocalypse. But for the Zombie disbeliever in you, there are a lot more reasons your support team should be ready to face a Zombie Apocalypse than a bunch of living dead chasing your customers. So here are five reasons why you should really get your help desk ready to take on a Zombie Apocalypse, even if it you think it’s never really going to happen:
5. Your bases are good to go, when the load is low
Best to be prepare your support structures when you can. When the zombies attack and you are under pressure, you most probably will not have time to get yourself ready. After all, your customers must know where to look for help when they are on the run, right?!
4. It could be your one chance to win everlasting love
When the going gets tough, the tough get their machettes and baseball bats out of the closet. During the attack, your customers will be relying on you, and that’s your one chance to outclass your best service. Give them what they want and make them your customers for life.
3. It’s a good reason to get in shape
Those long boring periods without Zombies on the prowl and scared customers calling in can dull even the sharpest support teams. Getting prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse means you will need to beat your fastest response times, resolutions and customer satisfaction scores every day.
2. The Breakdown Protocol is ready: You are prepared for the worst.
There aren’t a lot of things we can think of that can get worse than a Zombie Apocalypse. Which means if you have your Zombie Service Breakdown Strategy in place, you are ready to take on anything – service disruptions, black friday support overloads, bugs, inventory issues… Anything!
1. If a Zombie Uprising DOES happen, you are good to fight them already.
Oh zombies, you say. Bring ‘em on. You get to be the guiding beacon and hero to all your customers, instead of cowering under a cubicle with just an old kettle for defense.
Whether you believe in them or not, being Zombie-ready is just good business sense for your support. Go ahead, get your Zombie armors out. And get your customer support prepped up for anything with this free Greenpaper on The 6 Ways to Make Your Customer Support Zombie-Ready. Go ahead, download it for free, & protect your helpdesk.
Oh, and you’re welcome.
For every growing business that seems to “get” the importance of supporting customers on social media, some others make mammoth mistakes. This time we thought we should round up the 5 biggest social media fails, and what every business should learn from it.
Here’s Freshdesk’s list of the Top 5 social customer service fails, in no particular order.
1. PAYPAL VS REGRETSY
Paypal has been long berated by customers as one of the most insensitive companies around. But they outdid even that reputation when they froze a customer’s accounts because they did not use a particular ‘donate’ button on their site. And what was more, the customer was using it to raise money to buy poor kids gifts on Christmas.
Citing arcane rules and subjective judgement, Paypal made a nuisance of themselves which became a social media nightmare when the customer Regretsy posted the experience on their blog. It promptly went viral, and triggered a vicious backlash that forced Paypal to apologise, unfreeze the account and also offer Regretsy one full year’s free service.
Needless to say, they didn’t use the offer, and Paypal further dented its image in minds of customers.
Be nice & evaluate situations thoroughly. It seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to social media, businesses need to keep it personal.
2. FACEBOOK (yeah, themselves) VS SALMAN RUSHDIE
When Salman Rushdie opened a Facebook account, he probably didn’t realize the extent of the storm he was about to stir up. When Facebook suddenly shut down Rushdie’s account pending confirmation if it really was him , he sent a copy of his passport to prove he was who he said he was.
Which should have been the end of the story. Apparently not.
Facebook wanted Salman to use his first name – Ahmed, as was listed in his passport and not his middle name Salman. Salman protested on Twitter about Facebook’s unfair attempt to make him use a name which he had stopped using. An online firestorm ensued, Facebook backed down and let Salman use the name he wanted to.
What’s in a name, huh, Facebook?
Don’t be stuck with T&C’s. Common sense weighs in more than corporate rules.
3. DOMINO’S VS EVERYONE
Two employees at a Domino’s outlet decided it would be cool to post a video of themselves adding certain, um, disgusting ‘extras’ to pizza deliveries. The video was promptly picked up by the web, spread like wildfire and damaged Domino’s reputation heavily. The issue snowballed into a crisis never before experienced by a global brand like Domino’s. Though it was widely acknowledged that they actually did a great job of damage control, they still had to contend with all the lost sales and negative publicity that threatened to undermine a brand built over years. From then on, education about the perils of social media has become paramount among corporations who definitely want to keep their brands away from such a disaster.
Social is a culture, not a role. Make sure every last employee has their education, priorities and hashtags right.
4. NETFLIX VS THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS
The Netflix story will become the classic narrative of how not to move so fast that you end up shooting yourselves in the foot. Technologists still see CEO Reed Hastings’ initiative to divide and charge separately for their streaming and DVD businesses as a sound strategic move. But customers got both for the same deal before, so now they essentially had to pay twice for the same services. The market was just not ready. The move alienated thousands of customers and generated a storm online.
Customers vowed never to use them again. Stock prices plummeted and the media launched a savage attack. What was more, the spun off DVD business, Qwikster, hadn’t gotten hold of the appropriate Twitter handle yet, and the guy in control of the handle let out some racist, hateful messages that further enraged customers, prompting questions if the management was even entirely in control.
Netflix could have avoided all this easily, they were a well loved brand, and had (they still do) a huge following on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If they wanted to do something so radical, they could have just asked their fans and based their decision on the reaction. And they definitely should have gotten hold of the Qwikster Twitter handle before announcing the spin-off.
Though Netflix went back on its decision and is now rebounding, this is a case study in how not to damage a trusted brand.
Don’t alienate your customers. Their tweets and likes got you to where you are, and they can pull you down just as fast.
5. STEVE JOBS VS iPHONE 4 USERS
We included this to make the point that even the best of the best make mistakes. Even someone like Steve Jobs.
When the iPhone 4 was released, several of the users experienced issues with signal reception. When the questions attained critical mass and reached popular blogs and videos on YouTube, Jobs responded with a very simplistic message – “Just don’t hold the phone that way”.
He explained that the signal could be attenuated because of the position of the hands holding the phone, which would affect left handers more. Another solution he gave – buy a case, the prices of which started at $29. Well, everyone knew he was being unreasonable, and this resulted in a minor uproar on the social web.
But this being Steve Jobs, and the product being the iPhone, this was quickly forgotten, along with Jobs’ condescending tone. But even then, the internet never forgot the snub.
So if you’re thinking about pulling a stunt like that, let us give you some sound advice – don ‘t.
The iPhone 4’s sales definitely took a minor beating coz’ of this issue and while Apple can afford to ignore a sales drop, most businesses can’t. So the watchword – be careful.
You cannot afford to take chances. There is very little margin for error.
Conclusion & further reading
There you go. Five really easy takeaways from five of the biggest social media disasters. We chose to highlight these specific ones because of the lessons inherent in them.
What are your takes on these? Or do you have any incidents you would like to share? Please feel free to share your comments.
Remember the time your laptop broke down, and you had to wait for hours listening to an automated voice telling you how important your call was? Or the time you had to miss breakfast, lunch and half a day’s pay just to get somebody at the local service station to open your car’s hood?
Businesses have always assumed customer service to be a premium value add to their products and services. In fact Silver-Gold-Platinum support structures have become so common that even businesses that create customer support products charge subscription fees for their services. That’s ironic because (a) if you CAN provide Platinum service, that should be the defacto, and (b) giving your customers exceptional service is not really a choice you make any more!
Back in the days, the only way consumers could get a brand to “hear” them was through the support hotline, email or the company website. And it was at least ok (albeit unfair) to offer premium support to just a shining subset of customers. But today, with customers tweeting their fury and sharing their agonies on Facebook, providing mediocre support is just suicidal.
Businesses stuck with rigid support subscription models are unable to leverage social media and make their customer service proactive. As a result, they get even more entrenched in their old school support structures, praying for the good days of silvers and platinum to return, and believing support to still be an option they get to make. Here is why they couldn’t be wrong-er:
1. The need for real-time communication
Customers aren’t really going to wait for businesses to take their time responding to queries any more. Businesses declining to facilitate real-time support are shooting themselves in the foot. In an age of instant gratification, if your businesses doesn’t at the very least acknowledge my problem right away, you’ve lost me already!
2. The customer frames the rules
When a customer screams his agonies on Twitter, businesses that aren’t there to show that they care are just leaving their chips on the table for competition. The only thing worse than not having a social media presence for your brand is being apathetic and attempting to divert customer queries to traditional channels. If I had a bone to pick, and went as far as telling the world about it, I need a solution right there. Not a link to your support portal, or an automated voice on your customer care hotline.
3. The early bird catches the worm
Did I tell you about the competition part? Your customers are talking about you already on social networks. And so are your competitors’ customers. We’ve already bandied out examples of companies who are stealing large portions of the social pie from their competitors, one Twitter mention at a time.
Where businesses fall short
None of these points are world-changingly, paradigm-shiftingly new. And yet, a majority of businesses are yet to jump into the social train, citing two main barriers – Bandwidth and Reputation.
We’ve all heard heads of support talk about how their social media efforts are limited due to resource constraints. True, a Facebook page with no activity isn’t really a lot more value that no page at all. But their problem rests in the “execution” part, and the right tool can help a business manage traditional and social channels without feeling a pinch.
What should be done?
The more troubling problem is when businesses choose to not have any social presence because of the fear of blunders and negative word of mouth. Remember the old adage of “better to stay silent and let people assume you are a fool, than talk and remove all doubt”?
Unfortunately that doesn’t cut it today. Your customers are already there talking about you, whether you like it or not. You could either participate and engage, or stay back and disappear.
We are seeing more and more success stories on social support every passing day. The perfect social media support strategy just comes down to getting on the field and showing you care. The best tools can take you a long way, but social support is all about incorporating the human element.
It’s amazing to see how the help desk is inching away from headset-strapped agents, towards social media. In that light, a recent post in Forbes’ CIO insight by David Gutelius, chief social scientist at Jive Software, throws some perspective on “social customer service”.
If you are too tired to read through David’s post, its about the paradigm shift between customer care that had its nerve centers in old-school call centres, to this new age of customer service that embraces “social”. And when he talks about social, he means Facebook, Twitter, brand communities and every other touchpoint where organizations can forge a relationship with customers.
In short, David says today’s support software need to be built as ‘enablers’, giving customers the ability to look for solutions themselves, have a community with which they can engage and discover, set up knowledge bases that they can draw from, and so on.
And for all the right reasons, David’s post was like the ShamWow infomercial, for Freshdesk. Honest! In fact, a lot of David’s points were and still are the secret sauce that led to us create the first truly social customer service tool, Freshdesk.
But David magically seems to continue on our infomercial journey, highlighting the importance of analytics and insights into what customers look at and don’t look at. Like knowing what the customer needs so we can give her exactly the content she wants. It’s either a lucky coincidence or we are bang on target with our Freshdesk/Google Analytics integration a few weeks back.
To be fair, the post seems to downplay the effect of social customer support on the customer’s trust and brand-love. It’s awesome when you know you can vent your frustration and somebody is out there to listen and solve your problems. But overall, David seems to hit the nail on social customer service, it right on its Facebook-page-liking head!
Customer service is all about making the customer smile. And as Forbes puts it, ‘‘the best customer service team on the planet is a group of humans using social technology”. Well, man is an animal too!