Now we are entering 2015, I thought it would be interesting to review how social customer service has evolved during the last twelve months. In particular, any insights that can tell us what we might expect more of during this year.
My own experiences from my 2015 master classes and speaking engagements are that rapidly evolving expectations remain the engine for driving innovation in all forms of customer engagement. Social customer service is no exception. The range of channels and how they are used keep evolving as a result.
For instance, over a number of master classes, I learnt from Air France that Instagram had become a service channel for them with volumes scaling rapidly. Later in the year, Safaricom in Kenya revealed that WhatsApp is being trialled based on customer demand.
This means we are past the traditional twin mix of Twitter and Facebook. I’ve also heard that social platform owners are now waking up. They can see just how well their services suit digital consumers wanting real time access to an organisation’s attention.
What does this imply? First expect more service channels to surface. For instance Snapchat versus Facebook usage within the 15-19 age groups clearly shows how different generations gravitate to their preferred social platforms. Secondly we may start to see more service capability from the platform owners themselves as they start to understand that service enquiries are a crucial ingredient in the overall engagement mix they provide for brands.
Tapping into An Expert Viewpoint
Outside my own perspective, who else has a vantage point to see what’s happening? There are now plenty of vendors to choose from: another encouraging sign of a growing industry. I ended up choosing one of the original brands in the social customer service space who, in my view, has remained a seminal influence on how best practice has developed thus far.
As EMEA VP for Conversocial, Julian Johns hears the heartbeat of the industry every day and knows who is buying and what’s motivating them. Certainly I hear the brand’s name on the shortlist pretty much every time an organisation needs to beef up its capability. So given that exposure, I happily trotted down to Conversocial’s City of London office late last year and interviewed Julian.
This is what I learnt.
Martin: Reflecting on what’s been happening, what’s your headline from 2014?
Julian: I guess it would be that the biggest sectors just kept growing. In particular retail and travel (trains, planes and car rental). I’m expecting the same again this year. The reasons are pretty straight forward. In these situations, consumers now expect to get their questions answered on social. This has allowed the best brands to develop a positive reputation which in turn keeps attracting more consumers as the word gets out that social is the easiest way to get service resolution. Our top UK retail clients are now using between 20-35 seats to service this demand.
Martin: That certainly tallies with the volumes I’m aware of. Global headcounts now run into the hundreds for the most active brands. So I guess that means the proportion of social interaction is due to keep rising through organic growth in well established sectors. But that rings alarm bells for me since consumer expectation is bound to spill out across sectors, even if they have yet to get serious about social customer service. But before getting into that, is anything else you’ve noticed in your core markets?