In our previous two posts, we discussed when it’s appropriate for either marketing or a cross-functional social media team to own social response. Both of these make sense in different scenarios, but for enterprises and brands with a high social traffic volume, we believe the landscape is changing. As Social continues to change and be adopted, increasingly, the best place to own the responsibility of social response is the customer service organization, especially the contact center.
The contact center is where most large brands route their customers when they are in need of support. This can be via a phone call, a ticket, live chat and a growing number of other channels. So, why shouldn’t Social be there? In most cases, we believe it should be. Over the next few posts we’ll address the reasons why.
Today, let’s start by discussing two of the myths commonly brought up when discussing social customer service in the contact center: “It’s more work for our already-too-busy agents to handle” and “It’s one more set of costs to pile on top of a cost center that has been growing for years.”
Historically, the contact center has only been for channels of communication the company has decided to offer for their customers. As a company’s customer base grows, those channels become busier leading to increased staffing needs and new technologies needed to manage the demand. At this point, it’s accepted that, in customer service, we must progress with the growth, or our customers will find a competitor to do business with.
Customers adapt and change too. In this way, social media is interesting because it brings a new line of communication to brands that was never intended to be used for customer service. The demand for support and expectations of fast response times in social channels are no longer debated. If brands value customer retention and profitable growth, finding an effective way to support customers in social media is no longer optional.
Just because social media brings another channel for the contact center to monitor, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cost of support goes up, or that the workload of each agent will increase. In fact, in most cases, helping a customer over social media is often multiples cheaper than helping that same customer over the phone, and reduces the total time an agent needs to spend with each customer.
The cost of a support interaction largely depends on how much time is spent there. If we take a phone call as an example, each agent can only take one phone call at a time. Until the customer is satisfied, the agent is dedicated to that one customer. This is the reason why there are contact centers staffed with hundreds, even thousands of agents spread across the globe. And, it’s the reason why there is a huge market of technologies just based on reducing hold times and dropping the time to resolution.
If we compare the time taken for that one phone call to time spent monitoring social media, one agent can handle many conversations over the same time period. If we stop here, without going any further into the comparison, social customer service is already many times more cost effective than a phone call just based on this principle alone. The agent hasn’t had to work additional time to cover more customers. And they haven’t had an increase in the amount of work – just a change in the type of work leading them to be more effective over the same time period.
Not only can one agent handle more than one customer at a time, the amount of time spent with the customer getting to a resolution drops dramatically, leading to even further increases in the number of customers each agent can help during their shift.
Social media comments/tweets/posts are typically short and to the point. In cases where the entire engagement happens in social, the conversation may only be a handful of tweets long. At 140 characters per tweet, being concise works to the advantage of the call center – but it’s also favorable to the customer. They want fast service just as much as we want to give it and they don’t want to spend any more of their time in a customer service inquiry than they have to.
Social customer service is proven to deflect call volume. In this post, McKinsey & Company give an argument for why the COO should lead social response efforts. Their argument is largely based on how a couple of quick replies to a tweet removes the need for the customer to call in, freeing up the lengthy time on the phone. This is just the beginning of a long rabbit hole of costs that can be dramatically reduced simply by integrating social media as a channel in the contact center.
The bottom line is that social customer service equates to a lower total cost of support per interaction. Integrating Social makes each agent more effective over the same amount of work time, leading towards increasing the number of customers that can be helped, or even reducing the number of agents needed to staff a call center over time.
If you’re starting to think about this a little deeper and want to look at a plan for how this could work in your company, contact us. At HelpSocial we not only provide a best-in-class social customer service application to use and/or integrate with your existing call center tools, but we can also provide the training and strategic guidance for bringing Social to your contact center.