In episode 1 of our Social Business journey we looked at how we might practically socialize a sales team. In this entry we’re looking at how a customer service organization might socialize its process for greater customer satisfaction and better throughput.
In the picture above, the common issue with customer service in any organization is demonstrated. Your customer faces a number of barriers to communication with you (as your organization). Do I call, email, post a support request? How do I fill out the form online if the categories of problem don’t relate to my problem? What if I phone up and the automated answer system doesn’t have a press button response for me? Do I just hold and hope that a human will help me?
In these socially-aware times, customers want to be a brand advocate for you. When they contact you they want you to validate their choice in choosing your product or service by receiving VIP treatment. They want to feel loved, cared-for and they want quick service. They want a resolution that means they’ll be telling their friends how great your product or service was.
You, on the other hand, face the same barriers to communication. You might have a scripted response you have to give, or a fixed way of solving the problem. This lack of authenticity on your part (mandated by your organization) can have very serious negative effects on your brand perception and the chances of advocacy. To make matters worse, you have the clunking machine of your business processes to deal with. You can’t just simply phone up Janice in the product development department to get an answer – there are procedures for that kind of thing. The end result? All round misery.
Like in a socialized sales process, a socialized customer service process doesn’t dispense with the formality of the systems of record. They, however, introduce a system of engagement where a community of people, including the customer, you, and the people who can help come together to solve a problem.
In IBM Connections I would propose creating an activity for the customer’s issue. Use Profiles to connect to your subject matter experts (your stars) and use a template to ensure that the different actions that need to be taken to resolve the customer’s issue are taken. For example, in a customer support activity template I have created recently we had the following standard tasks.
- Define and agree the problem with the customer.
- Search Profiles for stars and add them as editors to this activity.
- Set deadline for next communication with customer.
- Provide links to existing knowledge on this topic.
- Communicate issue to Star.
- Diagnosis from Star.
- Customer contact with proposed diagnosis
- Problem solved? (If not, generate a new activity)
- Obtain feedback from customer.
- Write-up customer issue & resolution.
- Update product documentation wiki?
- Set the tags for the activity.
- Thank Star
This approach will most likely need to be tweaked for your instance, but I hope the general principle of the approach shows that this goes far beyond the normal helpdesk approach. The Activity template guides you through a social experience in resolving the customer’s issue.
With this approach you can also perform one of the most important tasks for process improvement – measure your performance. IBM Connections 4 includes entitlement for business analytics to measure the social use of your system – use it!
The 10 Steps to Social Business is a concept developed by IBM. This article was written by me, Alan Hamilton, with the permission of IBM.