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28/01/2013 by

The Great Social Customer Service Race [Infographic]

Social Customer Service Race: Today’s consumer doesn’t want to be “sold” anything, but they do want to buy from you. It’s our job as marketers to influence that want, which in today’s world often comes down to a battle of social savvy.

The Social Customer Service Race [Infographic]

I’m not talking about blasting out deals, links to articles or promotions on Twitter. True social media innovators know that in 2013 it’s all about engagement.

This was the premise behind a recent experiment I conducted for Software Advice called: “The Great Social Customer Service Race.”

I wanted to test 14 of the world’s top brands to assess their social media responsiveness. We tweeted each brand every weekday for four weeks using several personal Twitter accounts.

Social Customer Service Race Header 2

I timed how long it took each company to respond and the percent of total tweets that received an answer. I consulted experts from Engagor and Conversocial to devise the questions.

They were specifically designed to prompt an answer and fell into one of five categories:
• Urgent
• Positive
• Negative
• Technical

Overall, the participating companies only responded to about 14 percent of the tweets we sent throughout the race. Pepsi boasted the fastest response time at about 19 minutes.

Four brands didn’t respond at all. This included Apple, Visa, Starbucks and Walmart.

See all our findings in this infographic:

The Social Customer Service Race [Infographic]

In addition to assessing each brand individually, I also came up with a few best practices companies can use to improve their own social media engagement strategy.

Here’s a summary of what we learned:

Listen for Brand Name With or Without the @: Less than eight percent of responses came during the weeks when an @ was not used. The failure of brands to respond to negative, positive or other important tweets leaves a bad impression on the customer and anyone who follows them.

Listening for these conversations also presents unique opportunities to surprise and delight the customer.

Choose Prioritization Rules Thoughtfully: It’s impossible to expect brands respond to every tweet, so they need prioritization rules programmed into their listening software so the most important tweets are sent to the front of the response queue. These prioritization rules can include combinations of your brand name and other words with high purchase intent, or risk of switching brands.

Some examples include “thank you,” “mad,” “upset,” “buying,” “switching,” or “help.”

Track Social Customer Service Requests Like a Help Ticket: Several times during the race, a tweet was responded to twice, or several days later. Companies should have a standard method for processing and tracking tickets that’s comparable to phone, email or other channels. One way your company can streamline social customer service is by integrating listening software with help desk ticketing programs.

This enables users to automatically convert a tweet into a ticket, then mark it as open, resolved or waiting a response.

Record Interactions by Customer: One of my goals was to see if any of the brands would identify us as active socializers and improve their response time. None of the brands did. You should record interactions by customer so you can identify users who share often on Twitter.

You can nurture those relationships and possibly turn a detractor into a promoter.

Capitalize on Customer Service for Marketing: Social should not be separated exclusively in marketing, or community management or customer service. You need to look at the bigger picture. In our credit card group, MasterCard earned special recognition by capitalizing on an opportunity to market a customer service interaction.

When one of our participants asked whether the credit card is accepted globally, the MasterCard team responded and re-tweeted her message. In another instance, MasterCard used the customer service opportunity to pitch our Twitter participant a new product.

What About You?
How will you drive customer engagement in 2013? What are ke focus points for your social customer service race? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author

Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for the Software Advice website. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.


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