21 October 2014

Talk of Many Things

Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions

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The Business Case For Social Media Customer Service

11 September 2012  |  4622 views  |  0

In a previous blog post titled Gain Social Media And Lose The Call Center Hold Music, I’d written about how customer service via social media is a great experience for customers of airlines, banks, insurers, mobile network operators and other service providers. Let me now look at social media customer service from the perspective of service providers to see “what’s in it" for them. Unless service providers derive some concrete benefits from this channel, they're likely to shut it down, citing concerns around budget, ROI, compliance and the not-so-infrequent use of foul language in social media. 

recent study by Aspect found that “consumers get most frustrated with their banks and insurance providers when communicating with them through the contact centre, affecting cross-selling and upselling opportunities and resulting in loss of customers.”  I can vouch for this based on my personal experience on several occasions, most recently when I wanted to upgrade my smartphone’s 3G plan (see How Mobile Network Operators Can Use Mobile Apps To Boost ARPU on my personal blog for my experience around that transaction). As I’d pointed out at the time in my post titled Whither Cross-Selling And Upselling With eBills And eStatements, I saved myself the pain of having to interact with the MNO's call center by sending a message to its Twitter handle. Its CSR called me within a couple of hours and I was able to conclude the purchase within minutes by sending my order confirmation via email. 

I'll update this post as and when I've a suitable example from BFSI but, for now, I'm sure the above experience with the telecom industry adequately illustrates how service providers across multiple sectors can use social media for cross-selling and upselling, at least to customers like me who dislike contact centers. For those of you who might be wondering how well sales mixes with service, many service providers including banks and insurers find that 20-25% of communications they receive on their customer service channels are actually queries and requests about new products and services – and not complaints. By projecting social media as the primary channel to capture customer queries, requests and complaints, service providers gain the opportunity to engage more deeply with their customers in their preferred channel. This would not only help them improve customer satisfaction but also boost revenues, thereby establishing a strong business case for social media based customer service. 

Having said this, my behavior might not be representative of the typical customer, since the aforementioned Aspect study also found that ”social media are not considered by consumers to be main methods of communication”. So, service providers will need to make their social media channel more visible and encourage their customers to use it regularly. More on that in a later post, but since I’m personally sold on this channel, let me offer the following two bits to exhort customers to seize the initiative from their side:

  • You can get a lot more done with a 140 character tweet than a 140 second call (most of which you'll likely spend being put on hold).
  • If you’re not entirely comfortable with Twitter, use the telephone in addition. To paraphrase a famous Al Capone saying, you can achieve a lot more with a call and a tweet than with a call alone.
  • Remember that you're interacting with a business, so please don't indulge in NSFW language.

and end with this clarion call to them:

Customers of the world unite behind social media customer service. You have nothing to lose but the call center hold music.

Cross-Selling Via Twitter TagsOnline bankingRetail banking

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Ketharaman Swaminathan

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