Many of today’s savvy, customer-facing businesses understand that customers won’t always call them with problems or questions. If there’s a Facebook page or Twitter account, that’s fair game to leave a question or comment. Smart companies offer multiple venues for customers to communicate with them, including contact forms and live chats on websites, texting, and social media.
General Customer Service Functions Can Be Delivered Online
Consumers often turn to social media to generate customer service requests. Businesses with Facebook pages learn this pretty quickly. As Shopify notes, a consumer who publicly posts about a problem wants, and should get, a reply. Ignoring comments is akin to a Facebook death wish. In fact, Facebook is a great platform business can use to publicly demonstrate their commitment to providing excellent customer service.
Hootsuite has famously implemented a tweet-to-call customer service function. Twitter users can tweet questions or comments to a company from their smartphones (limited, of course, to 140 characters) and receive a link that dials into customer service. It eliminates a “public airing of grievances” and unlike Facebook, provides an immediate response.
Customer Service Goes Back to the Future
It’s interesting that Twitter is used to connect customers to a live agent on the phone because most customers don’t have the patience for even a short delay in speaking to an agent. Speaking to ABC News, Aaron Kleinhandler, whose Florida-based company creates hold messages, notes that most people hang up after 30 to 45 seconds. If anything, the shift back to the phone puts more pressure on companies and their customer service agents.
Small wonder, then, that there’s a huge focus in the customer service industry to connect callers to live agents. Almost all customer service centers used interactive voice recognition (IVR) technology at the start of a call. They typically ask the caller to press a number or speak the reason for the call and if all goes well, the caller is transferred to an agent with the expertise to address the question or problem. Agents work with computer software that displays information the IVR has collected about the caller and lets them record the purpose of the current call and the action taken to resolve the issue.
Many call center management functions are now provided through the cloud. All cloud-based contact services connect to at least one grounded data center; the more sophisticated ones work through multiple data centers in different regions. This allows them to quickly and seamlessly switch data centers in the event that one or more is compromised by a natural disaster or other service interruption and minimize any compromise to customer service.
Will Social Media Play a Larger Role in Resolving Customer Issues?
It’s reasonable to expect that the millennial generation and those that follow will be happier communicating via the typed word rather than the phone. MillennialCEO reports that texting is a preferred venue among members of this generation when they must interact with customer service. Here are a few other observations on how millennials regard social media’s role in customer service:
- Like it or not, social media and customer service are closely linked.
- A customer service issue left on a social media channel should be responded to within a few hours.
- The most important factor is the speed at which a problem is resolved.
- Millennials only want to information they request: don’t try to upsell them.