Social networks have changed the customer service industry beyond recognition. The creation of a multichannel environment where the customer chooses the channel, can jump across channels, and most of the interactions are public is a very different type of customer experience to what many in the customer service business have been accustomed to in the past.
But despite all the breathless statistics about the adoption rate for social customer service the fact remains that voice is still where most customer service is done and voice is what most customers prefer. Even when you take into account demographic preferences – younger consumers tend to favour social channels – there is still a lot of life in the voice call yet. Sometimes it is the quickest and most efficient way to deal with a problem.
However, this is not so simple. Customers who choose one channel to send a message usually like to receive a reply using the same channel. For example, if a customer tweets a question, the natural response is to tweet an answer, not to call on the phone and say ‘we are responding to your tweet’ on the phone. But in many cases voice is the final sign-off for many customer enquiries.
A customer may use an email or tweet or Facebook post to raise an issue. It may be responded to and a conversation might even develop, but if any private or sensitive information needs to be exchanged to resolve the question then this will probably be done on a call.
This channel switching is far more common than most customer service commentators appear to recognise and I believe that it is an important trend. An important measure of how good your customer experience is will not be just how good you are at managing individual channels – how quickly you respond to a tweet or answer a call – but how good your team is at managing these interchanges between channels.
This ability to handle the channel switch is going to be a business requirement that everyone is measuring before long. For now though it is worth reminding people that voice is still a very important channel even for those customers who choose to get in touch on social networks.
Photo by Domenico licensed under Creative Commons