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5 Metrics to Measure Effectiveness of Social Media Customer Service

This post is next in our series about the significant role of social media for customer service. Today’s customers are increasingly using online, mobile and social channels and they expect companies to listen and respond to them on these channels. Business leaders recognize that good service experience is critical to their company’s success and social channels must be part of a company’s overall customer service strategy. However the implementations lag behind intentions. An Econsultancy survey conducted in September 2010 showed (see results below) that more than half of the companies that took part in the survey had not integrated social media with customer service yet.

As companies are getting ready to start on the path of integrating social media with customer service, they are challenged by constrained resources. Showing success through measurement is therefore critical to justify the spending of time and money on new initiatives. As with all social business initiatives, you must have a clear strategy, business goals and success criteria before getting started. An audit of your social media maturity is also helpful to establish a baseline and to evaluate readiness.

Here are five important metrics to help you track effectiveness of social media into your customer service efforts:

1. Size of following and frequency of interaction

You need to understand the number of followers, the top channels and frequency of interactions. You measure this by tracking the number of fans and followers and the way they interact with you and each other. Don’t fall into the trap of looking at just the total numbers. Active users are much more important than the total number of fans or followers.  Of course, the quality of content that you post is very important. For instance, how many people clicked on your links in the last 30 days?

2. Number of issues identified and customer sentiment

Segment the mentions to find the number of customer service conversations. Pay attention to negative, positive and neutral conversations. For sentiments, trends over time are more important than snapshot metrics. You must observe volume and sentiments over time and correlate with business actions and events such as campaigns or promotions.

3. Responses, resolutions and time-to-resolution

Once the customer service conversations are identified and routed to the right person, they should be responded to in a way that balances privacy, security, timeliness and cost. You should have an efficient process in place, workflow tools and audit trails to ensure that issues are responded to in a professional, expedient and cost-effective way. Identify ownership and facilitate collaboration to ensure that things move smoothly. Use industry metrics such as first contact resolution rate and reduced time to resolution to show effectiveness.

4. Number of brand loyalists

Social media allows your customers to collaborate and influence each other with unprecedented ease. Regardless of how you define a brand loyalists/advocates, there are certain characteristics which set them apart from others.  These loyal customers answer common questions, share tips on how to make the best of your product/service, provide recommendations to their network and others, contribute to good ratings and even defend your brand when needed.

Why are loyal customers important? There are two important reasons. First, enthusiastic customers are much more credible in the eyes of the public than the brand itself. Second, they become your support agents, helping you scale the support efforts to a whole new level. Reality is that its not feasible for businesses to keep pace with social followers by hiring social customer staff.  That’s why you need to measure the size and growth trend of your brand loyalists.

5. Cost and benefits

Finally, a metric that C-level executives will relate to. Ideally your social media customer service efforts will show reduction in cost and increase in sales, demonstrating positive ROI. You need to measure the cost of people, process and technology for social media based customer service. Social media translates to a lower cost channel in many cases. The goal is to measure the number of customers who were deflected from contact center (higher cost support channel)  to social media and self-service online resources such as community forums. Best Buy is a good example of a large brand using social media aggressively to save millions of dollars from their customer service costs. It is also beneficial to show that the social customer support has contributed to improvement in customer satisfaction.

The customer service interactions have been known to generate a good number of leads and sales opportunity. Many dissatisfied customers express their negative experiences online and ask for recommendations. With the right mix of information, help and interactions you can win over potential customers. You want to make sure that your social support efforts are helping customers decide what to purchase and how to make the most of it. Keep track of how many leads are generated through customer service touchpoints.

This post presented a brief summary of what to measure for social media customer service. The next post will show you how to implement these steps and use technology to maximize the value through social channels.

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