By adaptive - May 28th, 2013

Brands need to step past the traditional when determining the metrics for their social customer service teams.

In the first part of the series we examined the power of the consumer in the social space, why it was important to listen to what’s being said and what tools are available to the business in order to monitor these conversations. In this part we are examining how a social customer services team should be measured and what kind of metrics should be used.

Social customer service metrics haven’t been given the same amount of love as many of the other social media metrics available today. According to Esteban Kolksy, Principal and Founder of ThinkJarThe momentum of social media is putting pressure on customer service to evolve into social customer service. That will mean reassessing the metrics used today and the methods used to collect, analyse, and report them, and ultimately creating a new measurement strategy.”

“Managing social media requires a new form of collaboration within the company,” says Elmar Kühn, Head of Global Customer Service at Spreadshirt: “In the past customer services and marketing responsibilities and tasks hardly overlapped, with social media, however, there is a high probability that a marketing expert will get a support request, and a customer services agent will get an order-related query.”

Elmar Kühn, Head of Global Customer Service at Spreadshirt

This blurring of lines across departments and roles can end up affecting the measurements chosen to evaluate their effectiveness. According to Kate Leggett on the Forrester blog, you should: “start by understanding the value proposition of your company. For example, do you compete on customer experience, where satisfaction measures are of primary importance, or do you compete on cost, where efficiency and productivity measures are most important?”

She goes on to say that once your brand understands its value proposition, you can then select the high level key performance indicators (KPIs) that support your company’s objectives. So, the first step in establishing how to measure the performance of your customer services team is to know precisely what their goals and values should be, and set them up from the start. These will then form the groundwork of your metrics and establish how to move forward with the development of the team within the business roadmap.

Selecting the metrics

There is no one perfect metric that will deliver unto the brand this gorgeous pile of data that can be used to improve performance or revolutionise social customer service. Instead you have a wide range of choices and it’s important that you try to keep these as streamlined as possible. Taking on too many metrics can be as damaging as having none at all.

“In large organisations, the investment in social media can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds and you really need to demonstrate the value you’re adding,” says Chris Tee, Sales Director at Expion EMEA, “You need to show that you are operating in an efficient way and delivering a return to the business. For example, you might want to track agents against KPIs like ‘respond to all customer posts within one hour.’”

Choose the metrics that match your business objectives and start from the moment you initiate a social customer service programme. Results demand a base line, a place from which they can deliver measured efforts, so building this is crucial. Brands should also consider both qualitative and quantitative measurements – the way people feel about your company and its products may be a vague metric at best, but it still gives you an insight that can be used to identify issues or areas of change.

Your business needs to establish the type of data it needs in order to measure performance against set KPIs, and then implement the metrics that match. Find ways of collecting and using this data to complement the brand.

It is important to remember that social media is a fluid beast. The nature of the conversation is to be vague, casual, and not designed for prowling brands to snap up vital business information. A remark by a customer here, a complaint there – these are valuable to a degree, but for a business to truly benefit from this type of information the metrics need to be structured around it. The types of tools available to the business for the measurement of these metrics have evolved and today the emotional level can be tracked. Of course, this is not an exact science, but sentiment is a valuable commodity.

That said this is an opportunity for your brand to seize the advantage and create metrics that are adaptable and can cope with the changing landscape. Traditional methods sit on the clock – how fast, how quick, how long – and ask how loyal and satisfied the customer was with this time. These metrics are still valid, but need to do the hokey pokey and stick the left leg out – social media is faster, quicker, more and far more demanding. The metrics you choose must fit with how you value this speed and how much your brand relies upon social to build customer relations.

Metrics you can add to your stable include: share of voice, reach, volume, influence and frequency. Each offers a unique perspective on your business. Will you use these in conjunction with sentiment and response time? Again it will depend entirely on where you are taking your brand and how the metrics match that road.

Developing the future

Once the metrics have been established and the teams understand how they are measured against these metrics, it’s worth examining how the development of the customer service teams should be mapped against the objectives for this part of the business.

“Customer service experts taking care of an order related question on Facebook are doing this in a public sphere, no longer in a traditional one-to-one communication manner,” says Kühn: “This challenges them to think not only about the right answer to the service case, but also about the brand message they are sending out with their answer.”

“We’ve seen a greater demand for effective management – tracking what is and isn’t working; generating an audit trail of interactions, and analysis,” says Tee, “You can ensure your brand is protected by assigning different members of your internal and external teams different levels of access.”

The teams need to be educated on the metrics by which they are measured and use these to develop more efficient communications that fit with the brand identity. There are solutions that allow for businesses to see a contextual view of a customer’s social conversation history so that the teams can see the impact of issues on brand sentiment, for example, and so that customer preferences can be logged into a central database for future use. This information can then be used to improve or manage customer-buying habits, to inspire further brand loyalty or to build relationships.

Training is vital, as is regularly using the information that measuring performance delivers in order to consistently streamline and adapt customer social services to fit.

In the final part of this series we will be examining how to integrate social customer services into the brand to deliver a unified response and garner tangible results.

Next Reads

The Social Media for Customer Service Summit 2013

October 2013, New York

How you can leverage social media for a more effective customer service function and better customer insight

Brochure Programme
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