Friday, December 30, 2016

A win-win for Social Media

 Most companies in the US are using social media as an important channel for communicating with customers. One of the primary reasons for using the social media is to provide information regarding products and services. Several studies such as one done by Simply Measured indicates that only about one third of the companies that use social media provide a link for customer service. Other studies suggest there is an increasing trend to provide customer service through social media.

The purpose of this blog is to examine the relationship between social media and customer service. The conclusion suggests that the proper use of social media for customer service is a win for the customers and a win for the company. Hence, using the social media for customer service reduces the cost of customer service while simultaneously improves response time of customer service to customer requests.

The advantages for customer service using social media include the following:
1.                   1..     Companies do not need to have support personnel available 24/7. This will allow the company to maximize the use of support personnel and reduce idle time. This improvement in productivity should be sufficient to justify using the social media as a way to acquire customer concerns as well as accolades.
2.                2.         Companies can utilize self-help diagnostics to reduce the number of customer interactions.
3.                 3.       Companies can acquire data from the social media to improve customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

The advantages for customers using social media to contact the company include the following:
1.       The customer can contact the company 24/7. Thus the customer is not inconvenienced by waiting until company personnel are available.
2.       The customer can resolve made his concerns through the use of self-help diagnostics.
3.       The customer can provide detail regarding the purpose of the call prior to the review by the company. This allows company respond more knowledgeably.
4.       The customers will frequently perceive the responsiveness to their concerns more positively than if they had to wait until someone is available.

Thus the customer and company each benefit by having a direct path through social media. As customers become increasingly aware of having customer service available through social media, other methods of communication will undoubtedly diminish. Companies need to examine how social media is being used by their customers. It is not unreasonable to expect that the trend for communication between the customer and the company in the social media will continue to increase.

The bottom line is that companies who provide customer service should be developing plans (if they have not already) to restructure the customer service strategy to include connection to social media. The signs are clear that customers will increasingly use the Internet to communicate with companies.

The companies who understand this trend and plan their customer service organization to address this change in the way we do business will have a distinct advantage over their competition.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Customer Experience versus Customer Service

One of the latest phrases that is being used is the customer experience. There is certainly a customer experience anytime a customer or potential customer interacts with the company. The following paragraphs outline some of the relationships between the customer experience and customer service and some of the differences between the two.

The first similarity between the customer experience and customer service is that they both address interaction between the customer and the company.
The second similarity is that both customer experience and customer service have metrics that provide management measurable perspectives that can be used for comparison and training purposes.
The third similarity is that both customer experience and customer service are major components of the business strategy of the company.

The first difference between the customer experience and customer service is that the customer experience is more proactive than customer service, which tends to be primarily reactive.
The second difference is that customer experience does not always have a customer service component; whereas customer service will always have a customer experience component.
The third difference between the customer experience and customer service is that the customer experience can be associated with every aspect between the customer and the company from initial contact with the customer to termination of the company customer relationship whereas customer service is most often limited to customers that have already established a relationship with the company.

Some will argue that the customer experience incorporates customer service.  While this is true, the customer experience is inclusive of all functions within the corporation. Hence the customer experience includes marketing to include acquisition of new customers, transforming potential customers into revenue-generating customers, providing products and services to the customers, developing and managing the financial relationship with customers, providing education and training on the use of the products or services for the customer, and finally to repair the customer relationship when one or more aspects of the relationship is not acceptable to either the customer or the company or both.  With this perspective of the breadth of the customer experience, the most obvious manager of the customer experience is the CEO. While the CEO may be involved to some extent with customer service, this is not a function that should require the complete attention of the CEO.

Using the argument in the preceding paragraph is clear that customer service is only one component of the customer experience and as such should be managed as a component of the company or as a component of one component of the business with its own metrics that support the overall business of the company.  It must also be managed tactically on a day-to-day and customer-by-customer basis while maintaining its perspective to support the overall business strategy.

The bottom line is that customer service is only one component of the company’s business strategy; whereas, the customer experience requires a broader perspective.  The customer experience requires metrics from every operation in the company that in some way interacts with the customer (from customer acquisition to termination of the customer relationship) while the customer service operation is focused primarily on customer support.  Someone in the C-level should have direct responsibility for setting and managing the customer experience.  Maximum company performance should be attained when the company assets are properly tuned to maximize the customer experience.

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