In the process of getting the word out that I’m bringing my Master Class to the U.S., I’ve been mugging up (more than usual) on the state of play. The headline brands that pushed the envelope during the first wave of social customer care are justifiably well known. Best Buy, Autodesk, Citi and Dell to name just a few.
More recently, they have been joined by forward-thinking brands in sectors ready-made for the ‘must help now’ responsiveness that excellent social customer service promises. Think air travel and online retail as examples of sectors closest to the eye of the digital storm now sweeping across global markets.
For a while, it remained a lottery which brands would actually deliver. Social Bakers pegs global averages at around 40% of service requests as still being ignored, with an average wait time of between 5-6 hours for those who do receive an answer. This is a standard that makes the much maligned voice channel still look pretty nimble in comparison!
But these are global averages we are talking about. In the sectors I’ve just mentioned they have already moved on. Typically inspired by a standout brand who leads the way. For instance, KLM has been an outstanding choice for other airlines to learn from. As best practices seep out, standards around responsiveness and resolution become normalized across the sector.
Even so, every sector has its laggards. For a while they can remain ‘unconsciously incompetent’. But eventually customer feedback takes them up a notch into ‘conscious incompetence’. “Why can’t you be the same as your competitors?” “Listen and learn. Or ignore and lose us.” Thus even laggards get to join the party.
This is how new competencies tends to spread. However even for the seasoned brand, the nature of social is that you are only as good as your last positive word of mouth and even the most accomplished can screw up. So the bar is tough. Consistency is crucial.
Who Else Is Doing It?
So far, so good. But America is yet to see mainstream adoption. So where are the rest? As customers we are demanding it. The next tranche of brands ought to be arriving. But are they?
ICMI produced a great snapshot earlier this year that tells one version of the story. Their headline is that “while over 68% of contact center professionals think social media is a necessary channel, less than 40% are currently supporting social as a service channel.”
Yet in terms of its significance “over a third of study respondents think they’ll lose customers if they don’t have social as a service channel.”
So recognition is certainly present in the industry. Why the hold up? The research probed a number of issues. Here the summary in the form of a great infographic also produced by ICMI.