Social Customer Support: Happier Customers, Lower Costs

Blog Post
December 10, 2014

iStock_000048549822_XXXLarge-resized-300x200 (1)

When you think of customer support, you probably think about calling into a contact center. But I’m not a big fan of the phone–and I’m not alone in this sentiment. As early as 2012, we’ve been seeing a decline in millennial’s use of voice minutes, and we just recently found out that many in this general age group have stopped listening to their voice mail.

On the other hand, I love social, and it would appear that many people of all demographics feel the same. According to PewResearch, 74% of all internet users use social networking sites. This percentage increases to as high as 89% for the 18-29 age group. It logically follows that if you want to reach someone in their preferred channel, social is probably a good bet–and this is also true for providing customer support.

Hello? Are You There?

After recently contacting the online print company Shutterfly regarding a disappointing Christmas card order and receiving no response, I tweeted the following (excuse the typos…I was mad):

Social Customer Service

I received no acknowledgment of my tweet, which made me more mad and extremely less likely to bring my business back during the next holiday season (after being a repeat customer for the past several years).

But it didn’t have to happen this way.

Dedicated Social Customer Support

If Shutterfly was smart about their customer service, they would have had a social customer support program in place (they would have also responded to my email, but that’s another story). Lots of people like me are looking for customer service on social, and 42% of those people expect a response within 60 minutes, so it behooves brands to put in a little effort here.

Let’s take a look at social customer support done well. I recently wrote a case study about one of our clients, a large, recognizable consumer electronics brand, that was caught off guard by a customer complaint that went viral on social. While working to put out the fire, the company realized it should have a more strategic presence in social communities. The company decided to proactively seek out and engage customers in the social sphere, addressing their concerns and support issues in real time, in their preferred social channels.

To get the social support program up and running, the company followed these steps:

  1. Complete a social audit to determine where the brand had official social presences and where its products are often mentioned online.
  2. Identify key influencers on these topics and platforms. Listen to these influencers to find the best keywords to monitor around the brand’s products.
  3. Develop a team to monitor these keywords on social channels.
  4. Build a framework around how to engage customers discussing brand/product issues on social channels.

Real Results for the Customer and the Brand

Starting with only two dedicated employees, the social support team for this client has grown to nearly 30 members and has seen the following impressive results:

  • Surprise! Their customers are happier! The social customer satisfaction (CSAT) score is 93%, whereas the call center CSAT score is only 84%.
  • They’re solving issues quickly with a social first contact resolution (FCR) of 95%. This one is a great indicator of a reduction in operating costs and increase in customer retention rate.
  • They’re improving satisfaction AND saving money with a call deflection rate (CDR) of 69%. This means this social support interaction “deflected” potential callers into a channel that has a higher resolution rate and higher satisfaction score while also boasting a lower cost. That’s a double bonus.
  • With a net promoter score of 90, the social support improved the willingness of customers to recommend the company’s products.

These results speak for themselves. Customers are getting the support and answers that they want in a timely manner in the channel of their choice, improving the individual interaction as well as the overall customer experience. All of this is resulting in more satisfied customers that are more likely to hang around. As a bonus, the company is also saving some money.

Take note, Shutterfly.


12/13/14: Shutterfly did, in fact, respond to my tweet containing this blog post, and we will hopefully work out my issue (maybe I just needed to shout a little louder?).

Social customer support from Shutterfly


1/8/15: I DMed my order number to Shutterfly shortly after their tweet, as requested, and I have yet to receive a response. Even bigger fail!