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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Avoiding customer service social media backlash

Tuesday July 12 2011

Customer contact expert David Parcell discusses how to manage customers who take their service frustrations out in the most public and viral of ways

Customer contact expert David Parcell discusses how to manage customers who take their service frustrations out in the most public and viral of ways


Social media has fast become the new medium of complaint as consumers vent their frustrations via means inherently designed to give the world a voice.


Customers are taking their frustrations with products and services to sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, in the knowledge that social media networks can generate more attention and faster responses than calling a contact centre.


While many customer service executives mull over how they embrace social media channels as another platform from which to serve customers, David Parcell, Verint Systems corporate officer and managing director for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, asks how many are truly considering how they monitor these channels effectively to isolate potential customer service issues before they become major threats to their reputation and brand?


"Any customer service professional nowadays knows that poor experience no longer results in a customer telling 10 friends through word of mouth: but that they can instantly reach hundreds of thousands of people," he said. "So, what if they were able to pre-empt this social media backlash?"


Don't overlook contact centre analysis


Parcell continued: "The fact remains that customers are most likely to go through the contact centre first to complain about a product or service. This offers the business the option of providing a resolution. A customer, loyal to a product or service isn’t going to turn-tail and run at the mere sight of an issue. However, if resolutions aren’t found or, more importantly, the complainant feels ignored, the company in question needs to brace itself for the consequences. Although, wouldn’t it be easier if this was cut-off at source?


"Sophisticated tools that help determine and track customer behaviours, such as speech, text and data analytics, can be used to identify trends that may find their way into the public domain. This will help organisations avoid customer service backlash played out through social channels. Speech analytics, for example, automatically categorises and analyses call content to reveal the root causes of rising call volumes, customer perceptions and customer behaviours. Such tools have the power to mine the different customer channels and surface trends that companies don’t even know to look for, without having to listen to thousands of calls. The solution can automatically identify increases in frequency of terms and phrases like 'unacceptable' and 'cancel my account,' even if they were not predefined by the user. Similarly, text analytics can mine conversations via email and community chat to identify customer service issues early on."


Parcell said the intelligence captured through these methods can allow for unparalleled insight into customer requirements and influences, enabling a clear view of customers’ wants and needs, and how well they’re being met. "The same intelligence also provides the ability to identify trends and better forecast customer behaviour – acting as an effective early warning system to diagnose at-risk situations and as a result, mitigate social media backlash," he suggested. For example:


• A communications provider was able to fix back-office processes that were generating unnecessary repeat calls and driving increased customer dissatisfaction. Corrective action helped increase customer satisfaction by 30% and saved millions of pounds through more streamlined processes;

• A payment processing team was able to identify ‘customers at risk’, by ranking them according to their spend and value to the business, listing the root cause of their potential defections. They saved over 2,000 accounts in the first year alone.


Using insight to anticipate issues


While such systems may not stop every disgruntled customer from sharing their customer service complaints on social networks, Parcell said that more often than not this insight can be used to recognise problems and resolve the potential reputation damaging issues before they go mainstream. It also highlights how the relationship is working between customers and agent to identify any cracks in the process or where the business could add value. "It also acts as a flare to highlight broken back office processes that are driving repeat or calls," he explained.


"If organisations use these aforementioned analytics solutions they can catch issues before they make onto the social network scene, therefore preserving customers and protecting a brand’s reputation."