Proactive customer service is not a new concept, but social media has changed the method in which it can be carried out. Long before the rise of social customer service, certain businesses focused on new ways to improve the customer experience. Looking to reduce call volume, they concocted ways of solving customer issues before the customer reached out. Many of these methods worked: a report from Enkata found that preemptive service can reduce call volumes by as much as 30 percent, while increasing customer retention rates by 3 to 5 percent.
Essentially, traditional Proactive Customer Service means anticipating customer issues and addressing them proactively. This can take a number of forms, from FAQs and forums to knowledgebases and instructional videos.
Proactive Customer Service over social media, however, means something slightly different. Twitter, now in particular, allows brands to reach out to customers when they've indirectly mentioned a brand or used a key terms relating to that brand. With Twitter, you're not just listening or monitoring; you're engaging with the customers who need you most.
These four tips will not just satisfy your customers; using these to provide above-and-beyond customer service will delight and, more importantly, bring tangible results.
1) See every issue - not just the ones with @mentions of your brand
Research we conducted last year with New York University found that less than 3% of tweets used the @ symbol; and over 37% all Tweets were customer service related. Access to the Twitter fire-hose is a must-have to gain real-time access to consumer conversations. It's important to understand how to filter data based on keywords, location, language and more to direct the customers' issue to the right member of your team. Simply put, you can't afford to leave your customers unanswered if they're posting about you without direct mentioning your Twitter handle.
2) Know there's a problem? Tell your customers you're fixing it
It's always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of realizing the product or service doesn't deliver. Maintain control of potentially volatile situations by confronting problems head-on. By directly engaging with customers, you can build customer trust and avoid damaging PR. Tell them what you're doing to figure out a solution and ensure the problem doesn't happen again. Or make sure they know who to contact if they have further questions or feedback. You can even offer a discount on a future purchase, or provide a refund if the action you take to fix the problem doesn't satisfy their needs.
3) Measure success with customer service KPIs
It's important to make proactive outreach accountable with real customer service analytics and reporting. Demand volumes, customer sentiment, issue categorization and response rates should all be measured to glean an accurate picture of discussion around your brand and your team's ability to make a difference. And with good social customer service analytics, it's easy to quantify the results of pre-emptive service, such as increased call deflection and increased profitability by improving NPS. In a recent survey we found that 14% of tweets are now sent in store, meaning that through proactive listening brands have the ability to reach out and influence a sale - effecting the most important KPI of them all, the bottom line.
4) Don't just reach out when something's wrong
No relationship is sustainable if you only communicate when something's wrong. When those relationships are with a rapidly growing customer base, social media is an efficient way to stay in touch with a large audience through individual conversations. As Seneca said, "He who gives when he is asked has waited too long." It also gives you the ability to surprise and delight your social communities, creating brand advocates along the way.