We asked Jozefien Verhaeghe, Customer Care Manager of Clarabridge, all about the social customer service industry.
Here’s her take:
1. What do you believe are the key ingredients for a brand to engage successfully with its customers on social media?
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to reach out to you! Ultimately your customers prefer to be independent and work without help, but if they do at some point need assistance, you have to make sure that they don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the help they need. This includes making sure that you are available when your customers need you and also choosing channels where your customers are most likely to reach out to you. For us at Clarabridge CX Social, this means that we focus on Live Chat—a chat tool inside our product—because that’s where our customers are when they have questions for us.
You should also think about the nature of the questions that come in through customer care and adjust your choice of channel accordingly. If the questions that come in, for instance, typically require a longer conversation rather than a single response, then Messenger might be more suited for you than, say, Twitter.
2. As an industry insider, what are you most excited about concerning innovation in the field?
One thing I am seeing more and more is brands really investing in analyzing their data on a deeper level. It’s essential for companies to track the performance of their social interactions with customers. By doing so, they will be able to get a better understanding of their successes as well as areas for improvement. Armed with this knowledge, you can define a stronger strategy and fine-tune your company or departmental goals.
One of the really cool innovations in this area I saw recently is “Effort Score.” This is a new calculation based on a powerful machine learning algorithm that determines the different levels of effort a customer had to make to obtain something or experience your product. I strongly believe that as a brand you should always try to enable your customers as much as possible. It should be easy for them to engage with your product. With the help of Effort Score, you can get a better understanding of what your customers struggle with. In this way, a score is also often a good method to predict and impact customer loyalty.
3. Can you share your thoughts around social customer service and how it differs from (or parallels) social media management?
Social media management is about being present online on the various social networks and is mostly focused on getting information to existing customers and creating interest on the part of potential customers. The approach here is therefore often directed toward a broader audience. In social care, however, the brand interacts with customers on a one-to-one basis. This requires a more personal approach in terms of communication than with general social media management. Social customer care aims to build and intensify the relationships you have with your customers by blowing them away with your personalized service so that ultimately you can retain them and hopefully they become advocates for your brand.
4. Name that trend: Can you share what industry trend you are most excited about at the moment as well as what’s hot but probably not worth the hype?
My answer to both questions happens to be the same: bots that use artificial intelligence! People often fear that machines will take over our work. They will, but only to some extent, and that is something we should actually be excited about! Bots, to me, are the perfect extension of human customer care agents. Some of the more repetitive tasks—such as looking up prices, answering an FAQ and checking itineraries—can be automated, and that is a good thing. The customer can get an answer almost immediately without much effort, and the customer care agent’s job becomes a lot more interesting because the repetitive, easy questions aren’t coming his or her way anymore. In my opinion, the job of a customer care agent will therefore evolve into an even more crucial role: one of a customer advisor. A customer advisor is someone who knows your product inside and out and who can assist you with any query that goes beyond the standard questions. It’s really a win for everyone involved.
What I don’t believe is that bots will ever replace customer care representatives entirely. Human intervention adds that extra something to a customer interaction, which, to me, can make all the difference between a moderate impression and an excellent one. On top of this, human intervention currently remains crucial for all complex business queries.
5. Tell us the most rewarding interaction you have ever had with a brand on social and why it has stuck with you.
Technically it’s not my story, but it’s too good not to share. My sister and her 4-year-old son James (my godchild), live in Romania. The two of them frequently travel between there and Belgium. On one of their last trips, they flew Wizzair. As always, James had packed his backpack with some of his most important belongings—aka his entire collection of teddy bears. Everything was going fine until they boarded the airplane and James pointed out to his mother that he had left his backpack with his beloved teddy bears in the terminal! What happened next? A lot of panic and tears on James’ part, of course. The stewardesses couldn’t help, unfortunately, because the doors of the plane were already closed. And to make it even worse, they whispered into my sister’s ear that if the backpack was found unattended, the staff would be obligated to take it in for destruction (security measures). At that point, my sister started panicking as well. James would be devastated if he could never see his backpack with the beloved teddy bears again.
Luckily my sister had her cellphone. So what did she do? She sent Wizzair a private message on Facebook and explained the situation. This all had to happen really quickly because the plane was already taxiing for departure. To my sister’s surprise, Wizzair was very quick to respond to her message. Before the plane took off, they let her know that they would look into it for her.
Two and a half hours later, she and James landed in Brussels and were greeted by someone from the Wizzair team. The person said that they had organized a search party for the teddy bears at the Timisoara airport, with success! The backpack was found, searched and found to be harmless, so it wouldn’t have to be destroyed. They would keep it safe at the Timisoara airport until my sister and James returned there. On top of that, they also gave little James a toy airplane—something to take his mind off his missing teddy bears until he could be reunited with his backpack. I don’t think I’ve ever seen James more relieved.
Looking back, the kind and thoughtful service of the Wizzair team relieved the entire family that day.