An estimated 90,000 people descended on San Francisco last week for the biggest cloud computing event of the year–Dreamforce 2012. The gathering featuring hundreds of learning sessions, panel discussions and keynotes. But that’s not where I picked about some of the most useful tips.
One unique demonstration – dubbed the “Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center” – was posted up right in the middle of the expo floor and offered a chance for attendees to watch and learn from real-life social customer service scenarios. The center was manned by eight seasoned social customer service agents. Large screens showed interactions in real-time from Dreamforce attendees on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Chatter self-service social groups. And the center was ringed by flashy statistics streams resembling stock exchange tickers.
“I don’t think there’s any company out there that doesn’t need to be thinking about [customer service through social]. I guarantee your customers are already using the channel, and they’re probably already talking about your brand,” Salesforce Marketing VP Fergus Griffin told me.
For those readers that didn’t get a chance to check out the Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center in action, here’s a few tips Griffin and another Dreamforce speaker shared with me.
Always Post Publicly First
John Rote, Vice President of Customer Experience at Bonobos, compared support through social media like troubleshooting in a coffee shop or bar.
“It’s likely more people will hear about it and pull friends from across the room to listen. This can mean a bad experience is shared further, faster,” says Rote, who spoke at a social customer service panel at Dreamforce called “How Small Businesses Keep Up with the Velocity of Customer Service.”
To mitigate this risk, he suggests companies always acknowledge the comment in social before taking the interaction to another channel. Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center observers will watch this happen in real time. If an attendee asks a highly technical question on Twitter, the agent might reply, “I’m emailing you now!” or “Here’s a link to a Chatter discussion on this topic.”
This approach publicly demonstrates that the company is listening and responds to everyone. If the interaction was taken straight to email, no one would know customer service addressed the problem.
Hashtag Common Queries
Griffin told me that last year during Dreamforce most interactions across all service channels involved questions about where things were located, recommendations for events, and tips for getting around the conference. Hashtags allow customer service managers to instantly create a knowledge base for topics such as these.
During this year’s event, Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center agents used hashtags such as #DF12, #df12ready, #Dreamforce, #dreamforce12 and #readyfordreamforce to index comments from attendees. This allowed them to instantly refer users to those tags when they had questions. They might respond and say “@UserName check out everyone’s food recommendations by searching #readyfordreamforce!” When they search that hashtag, the visitor could scan through everyone’s suggestions. This saves the agent time, while still providing a helpful personal response.
One of the biggest challenges with providing customer service through social is dealing with the sheer volume of requests. Griffin said companies should have a well-defined strategy for prioritizing responses. This should include ranking factors from social–a Klout score, for example–and customer history. A company might choose to respond first to longtime customers or those with a history of high-value purchases.
“Companies should strike a balance between who [the customer] is in the community, but also who they are to you,” Griffin says.
At the Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center, agents automated social mention identification and prioritization through Salesforce.com’s Radian6 Social Hub. This system trolled the Web for #Dreamforce, @Dreamforce and Dreamforce mentions on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. These were then instantly turned into a service ticket and prioritized and routed to the appropriate social response agent.
Engage Customers You Might Never Have Known
Customer service through social media is not just about providing another interaction channel in addition to phone, email or live chat. The medium provides a platform to engage with customers you might never have met before. Once identified, these social customers can be engaged to become brand advocates – but only if they have a good experience. So get cracking!
Research for this article was provided by Software Advice.