The Power of Integrating Customer Service Across Your Organization

by Mack Collier

While many companies are struggling to use social media as a channel to drive sales, some companies have discovered the power of using social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to provide effective and efficient customer service. For example, look at this recent exchange on Twitter between Ekaterina Walter and Nikon:

EkaterinaNikon

EkaterinaNikon2While the end result might be a customer service ‘win’ for Nikon, it also raises some glaring issues for the brand.  For example, if there’s consistently a disconnect between the level of customer service that Nikon offers via phone and Twitter, what happens when customers try the phone and don’t know to contact Nikon on Twitter?  In that case, Nikon likely doesn’t have a chance to redeem itself as they did here with Ekaterina.

Another byproduct of this is that by providing better customer service via one channel, you are training your customers to go to that channel first for customer service.  Which can be a plus assuming you have the bandwidth to support additional customers.  But if not, that likely means that the level of customer service provided by one channel (Twitter in this case) may fall lower and more in line with what customers are seeing via other channels (such as the phone).

So what’s the answer?  Try comparing notes.

Think about all the channels customers can use to contact you with support issues.  Email, social media, website, phone, even snail mail, maybe even in-person.  It’s important to remember that different customers prefer to use different tools.  So it’s entirely possible that each customer service channel you use is seeing complaints and questions from a completely different segment of your customer base.

For each customer service channel you use, you should have your employees that man these channels regularly provide every area of your customer service team with the following information:

1 – What is the nature of customer contact?

2 – Are customers inquiring about a particular product or service?

3 – Did the customer mention attempting to contact your company via another channel first?  If so, which one?

4 – Who was the customer?  Share any information you can about who they were, their age, location, how they used you product or service, etc.

If you can better communicate and integrate your customer service experience then the total quality of customer service you provide will increase.  That means more satisfied customers, and it increases the likelihood of creating more fans of your brand.  Most brands don’t understand this, but one of the easiest ways to create new fans is to give a frustrated customer excellent customer service.  That will often convert an upset customer into an advocate for your brand.

Share your successes, and your failures

No matter how many touchpoints your company offers customers to contact you with a service issue, the employees manning the frontlines should be in constant contact.  If your support team on Twitter, for example, is having success providing customer service, you want to share with other areas of CS what’s working.  Reverse-engineer why the CS experience on Twitter is better for customers so you can share what’s working with the rest of your organization.  That way your team that handles the call center may be able to apply some of the lessons learned from the Twitter support team to improve the experience callers see with customer support.

It’s equally important to share your failures.  Let other members of your customer support team diagnosis your efforts and give you insight into how to improve, based on what’s worked for them.  A fresh set of eyes are often necessary to spot shortcomings that can be corrected.  Another good idea is to have a private message board or forum just for your customer support team so they can bounce ideas off each other and share thoughts.

The bottom line is that just as communication with your customers facilitates understanding, the same process works internally.  The more communication between all areas of your customer service department, the greater the chance to improve the experience for your customers.

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