7 Replies Latest reply on Feb 16, 2012 3:01 PM by John Schwiller

    Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?

    Ryan Rutan

      Meeting your customers where "they are", such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, appears to be a common thread in the mandates for corporate success in 2012.  But as I scan through the media, I see articles proposing a wide range of recommendations on how best to adopt these growing paradigms.  So it begs the question,


      How has your company leveraged "Social" as part of its customer service endeavors?  Any Successes?  Any failures?  What are your thoughts on how companies can best leverage "Social" and take away the most value?

      My personal thoughts are pretty straight forward,


      In order for a company to embrace "Social" they need to do it for realz, (yo?).  That doesn't mean abandoning existing traditional means, but it does mean making an official investment.  Growth in social is exponential.  Asking someone to dedicate 10 minutes or an hour "when they have time" is not going to cut it.  You need to provide official resources/allocation to this effort.  It cannot be seen as a one-off directive with no backing.  That being said, I'm not suggesting that every company go out and hire an entire team or organization to support it, but be conscious of the resources you have and your commitment to both your customers and yourself. 

      Your next step should be to define a monitoring strategy that can be successful with the resources you have allocated.  This could mean adjusting some factors, such as the number of social sites you monitor and/or modifying SLA expectations with a specific site.  In addition, to achieve the best results, I'd also recommend that you disclose to customers the "best practices" on how to engage you for support on each site.  Whether it's @mentioning a Twitter account, posting to a Facebook page, or joining a group on LinkedIn...this initial step matters!  It reduces the size of the social funnel 10x and makes supporting each channel more scalable...and opens the doors for future automation!  You can also make a disclaimer that says you will provide a best effort to look for organic posts; however, that's a bonus, unless you have tools that make this cost effective.

      In summary,

      • Officially allocate/budget for resource(s) and tools.
      • Define a monitoring strategy that can be successful with your allocated resource(s) and tools
      • Share your monitoring strategy with customers, help them not just play the game, but play the game to win!



      Updated: 02/06/2012

      To be clear, I am not suggesting a full replacement of traditional systems, but rather equal return-justified investment into social to complement traditional investments.

        • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?

          This brings up a very interesting topic that I believe many companies are needing to look at due to the changes in web behavior and expectations.


          One thing that I think of every time I hear people discuss the idea of providing customer service on off domain platforms is: Are you really teaching your customers to fish? Or are you just creating a siloed experience?


          I am sure many people are familiar with the proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This is something we always think about when it comes to customer support at National Instruments. We want to help resolve our customer's issues, but we also want to make sure we are helping them learn how to get their issues resolved on their own. NI spends a lot of time on creating tutorials, example code, getting started material, etc. This content is hosted on ni.com, and if we begin to answer more support questions off domain instead of pointing people back to our website (where a bulk of valuable content already exists), we aren't helping our customers help themselves.


          This is not to say that companies should not have a presence on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn- but I think it is very important that people analyze the use case for Company accounts on these platforms, versus customer support on the company domain.


          Another question I have: Should the way social is integrated into support vary based on B2B vs B2C?


          I would love to here what people think!

            • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?
              John Schwiller
              In addition, to achieve the best results, I'd also recommend that you disclose to customers the "best practices" on how to engage you for support on each site.


              This made me smile, given some of the dev questions being asked recently on the Jive group on LinkedIn. A few people have tried to steer the questioners back to JC but I think the guidance on the group could be a bit clearer as to what its purpose is - for example is it for Jive related discussion or is it a marketing platform for anyone who wants to sell their wares in the social arena?


              I think this raises the issue of ownership for monitoring of, or being responsible for a place, which Ryan has been quick to refine the places and groups IA on JC. You need the same ownership for the off domain locations. 

                • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?

                  Hey, John.  Thanks for the feedback.  I have just opened up the Jive LinkedIn Group and created rules.  I would love your feedback on the guidelines.  You can find them by going to the Jive Software Group on LinkedIn and clicking on Group Rules in the upper right hand corner.

                    • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?
                      John Schwiller

                      Rules captured here (unread):


                      Jive is a social company, so we understand the way people interact is fundamentally changing. We highly encourage you to participate on this LinkedIn Group, which is designed to share ideas and best practices on Social Business; ask questions and share answers on Jive products; and network with professionals in your industry, area or role.


                      While Jive employees will be engaging in dialogue on LinkedIn, here is a list of formal resources:

                      Support: jivesoftware.com/support

                      Customer Community: jivesoftware.com/community

                      Product Feedback: https://community.jivesoftware.com/community/features


                      Use these guidelines to learn how to be good group member and feel empowered to join in the conversation. Let's make this social channel valuable and fun!


                      1. Think before you post. There's a lot of content online, so don't just add to the noise. No spam, direct sales pitches, or inappropriate subjects are allowed.

                      2. Stay on topic and add value. Posts in the Discussions section should relate only to Social Business topics or Jive products.

                      3. Posts in the Jobs section should be about relevant work opportunities or related content for job hunters. Job listings must include a complete description and business email.

                      4. Don't disclose confidential information or violate trademarks, copyrights, NDAs, or personal information laws. 

                      5. It goes without saying that you should always present accurate information. If you make an error, admit it quickly and make a correction, if possible.

                      6. Write about topics you know. If you branch outside your subject-area expertise, be clear about that.

                      7. Don't pick fights. Correct mistakes, misconceptions, or share an alternative opinion in a non-argumentative manor.


                      Violators will be removed from the group.


                      If you have any questions or feedback on this list, please email social@jivesoftware.com.

                  • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?

                    Awesome Claire!  As for the additional question - I think the way social is integrated into B2B and B2C would be similar in that you want to make people in the community (either B2B or B2C) aware that those questions exist in the social web.


                    The uses would be different in a sense that B2B customer support sites have a much higher chance of being private, or gated towards the general public.  That means most of the answers within the community are delivered by the company directly to a customer as a mostly secret response.  Any sort of social interaction would have to deliver an agent's answer out of the community and into the social web.


                    B2C communities are open, guests are usually the primary user.  Customers end up actually answering quite a bit more questions with service agents jumping in on unanswered questions. The goal here would be to absolutely drag people back to the community as it is the source of all engagement and knowledge.  You would not need to push answers out as frequently since the answer exist in an open forum.


                    So in the end, the B2B focus would be on empowering customer service agents to integrate with the social web and push answers out.  B2C would be empowering the actual Customers or 'Customer Experts' to integrate and answer on the social web and to drive questions into the community.

                      • Re: Can "Social" fully replace tradtional customer service channels?

                        What is interesting is that the majority of our support forums (forums.ni.com) are not private, and we actually see that about 50% of the support questions are answered by the community (non NI employees). There are of course situations where people or companies need to have a private interaction with us, which in that case the support would not be done in a public environment.


                        I am very interested to hear what other companies are doing in their different social channels. And how they differentiate between them (or if they do) and how they decide what the right balance is. For example, should you have a support forum (on platform), or a community (on platform), and twitter, and linkedin, and facebook, and google+ etc etc.


                        Is it best to meet customers where they are in their day-to-day virtual lives, or is it better to bring them into 1 experience. How do you prevent siloed experiences if you do use multiple platforms, both on and off domain?


                        So many questions! I could keep asking