For many years small and medium-sized businesses have used contact centers to help extend their business hours so they can always be available to their customers. But, as you can read in the article below, all businesses need to look at how to extend their business hours, and all the mediums they are available on for their customers.
This is where a good BPO Contact Center support company can come in. Most of the leading Contact Centers now are supporting all the traditional communication channels and the new ones like, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc… This way instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with your internal support team, you can use the experience that these contact centers already have to expand your service abilities.Now before you jump in feet first and outsource all of this there are a few pieces of advice I would offer:
1. Just because a company says they do social media monitoring and response, does not mean they actually do it. The best test is to tweet or Facebook a post mentioning them, and ask a question. If you do not see a quick response (1 hour or less) they are not the company for you.
2. Ask for the hiring profile for social media based support agents upfront. If the center is really in the space this is something they should be able to send over right away. If you hear hesitation or there is a big delay (over 1 business day) then count this as a red flag. Also, read over the hiring profile very carefully and look for these key items:
– Typing speed at or above 75 WPM
– Grammar and Spelling proficiency testing at or above a 95% accuracy requirement
– Blogging or Social Media experience
– Journalism experience (a plus)
These items make up a great foundation for a support agent who will not be supporting any or very little live call volume. Remember a phone agent can not be a non-live agent 99% of the time.
3. Check the http://klout.com/#/SalesKingOnline score for the company. This is a great gauge for how involved and influential the company is via social media. Be aware not all companies are required to report to this website, so take this information for what it is worth. I have provided you with my personal Klout score so you can see how it works.
In summary, just remember a diverse customer experience program is no longer a nice thing to have, it is required to be in business. But, to do this you must have the buy in from your entire organization, ESPECIALLY YOUR LEADERSHIP!! With out this you are never going to get the results that a completely diverse customer experience program can offer your business. This will mainly be done by leadership continuing to view customer experience as a 100% cost center, rather than the revenue protector and builder it really is.
Photo credit: Mira Hartford
Every business has customers. Well, at least every successful business. If someone walked into your store to ask you a question, would you tell them that you just didn’t have time to talk to them?
If you want to provide great customer service, the first thing that you should know is that it’s no longer good enough to answer questions in conventional channels (email and phone, or in person) or at conventional times (during work hours, perhaps on weekends.) Twitter in particular is a channel for customer response that’s changed the expectations of customer service most dramatically, and forever. Your customers talk to you on Twitter because they feel it’s an immediate connection to the people in your company who can solve their problem.
Fine. What does that mean? First of all, it means that the expectations for the timeliness and breadth of your customer service have become headline driven. Can you answer the customer, respond in the appropriate tone, and/or redirect the issue with valuable content in under 140 characters? That’s what your customer expects.
Yet customers who contact you on Twitter don’t always want to have a public conversation about their entire account. This shift demonstrates another way that customer expectations have changed in our always-on world. Customers use Twitter because it’s fast, easy, and mobile. It’s also extremely easy for them to share their experience when things go right (or, when they go wrong.) And they contacted you because they want your business to learn the “right” way to contact them — which is a very personal requirement and might even change communication channels during a single issue — and for you to remember that preference.
The second main item to note about the change in customer experience is that customers can now easily compare your brand or service to the most responsive and service-centric brands in the world. Should you be worried? No way! You now have a direct method to learn from @VirginAmerica, @StarwoodBuzz, and @ComcastCares, and other companies that do a fantastic job extending their service culture onto Twitter.
You might think that all of this online activity means that you need to be “always-on” and “always available.” It’s certain that being accessible to customers is one way to respond to customer needs and you should definitely consider this as an option … if you’re ready to respond on a 24÷7÷365 schedule. You should also respond even if you’re not going to be around all of the time — and you should ensure that your hours of operation in that channel are very clear to your customers.
Finally, you should know one thing that hasn’t changed about customer service in general even as the ways customers contact you has changed: that treating people well matters. If you create, communicate, and deliver unique value through service, your customers will respond. And in the age of Twitter and other social tools, they’ll tell their friends too.