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Taking Social Customer Service to the Next Level

The recent events with United Airlines and Pepsi have reinforced the impact that social media can have on a brands’ reputation and the importance of good social customer service. It’s no longer enough to give community managers or social care teams a screen full of brand mentions and expect them to excel in their jobs. The time required to make sense of whether the post or handle is relevant is time that could be spent engaging more customers or influencers. One of the main challenges is prioritization and being able to create sophisticated rules for routing relevant posts to the right person at the right time.

If brand mentions are the initial filter, other variables to consider should include location, loyalty status, social influence, sentiment, and other post / person level data points that can be captured and applied with the right tools. Simple rules-based approaches to prioritization are not enough – it requires a dynamic, heuristic-based approach to properly surface the right posts in real time. In addition to more intelligent routing and prioritization, applying these variables can help social teams capture relevant posts missed by typical brand mention filters (e.g. when a brand is misspelled or not mentioned at all).

In many cases, posts should be routed to the employees who are best equipped to resolve the issue offline. For example, a hotel chain may want to provide access to the GM’s at all of their properties the brand mentions coming from their property as a way to stay ‘tuned in’ to what is happening and to take action offline at the property level. If five different guests all suddenly post something on social media about the music being too loud, the GM on location (not the community manager) is the one that can take action in real time to make the guest experience that much better. Rather than engage in conversation, this GM can tap into the real-time intelligence via their mobile device to act quickly offline.

Similarly, an airline can equip gate agents or customer service teams at the airports with location-specific notifications for important customers who are actively sharing their experience about the brand on social media while in transit. These posts become real-time source of insight that empowers those employees to stay tuned into to real-time customer sentiment at the post level. The reality is that every mention doesn’t need to turn into an online conversation, but this insight can mean the difference between winning or losing a customer.

Another obvious benefit from smart delegation is that it now frees up community managers to spend time on more important projects and reduces the time it takes to find relevant posts. This ultimately translates into more dollars for brands that can now redirect these valuable resources to more productive tasks.

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Beyond customer service, routing social media posts to the location level can also enable powerful surprise & delight opportunities for savvy marketers. One of our customers at Earshot is currently using our Decibel Level scoring system to notify them when someone who has 25,000+ followers, is a loyal customer, follows the brand on social media, has a highly engaged audience, and posts from a selected venue. Stitching together these five data points in real-time, Earshot’s technology alerts teams on site with push notifications when someone scores high enough to “qualify” for VIP service or seats next to the stage – cementing a strong relationship with a micro-influencer who is likely to share that brand affinity with their network.

One of the biggest keys to responsive customer service and optimization of filtering and routing is keeping the noise level down. Consider tools that can filter out business handles, measure sentiment at the post level, and do real-time vetting for handles with inappropriate content so that only the important mentions surface and action can be taken in real time for those customers who take to social media to share their experience.

Leading marketers are now realizing that brand mentions they receive on social media do not have to be restricted to online conversations, but can also be clues to help make the offline experience that much better as well.

David Rush (@davidmrush) is the Founder and CEO of Earshot, a social media marketing platform that enables brands to discover, prioritize, and engage customers in real-time. Learn more about Earshot at earshotinc.com and follow us on Twitter @earshotinc.