Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guest Post: Peer-to-Peer Support is Changing Social Customer Service

By: Erica Strother

Search for “customer service” or “customer service fail” on Twitter.  How many tweets appear in the feed? More than likely, the answer is thousands.

Now recall the last time you turned to social media to ask a support question, vent frustrations, or seek out product advice from your personal network.  If you’ve done one of these things recently you’re not alone. It’s increasingly common for customers turn to social media as their first point of contact for support.  This presents an enormous opportunity for service organizations, but is also quite risky for the companies that aren’t adequately prepared to handle this form of support.

For example, what happens when other customers notice tweets of frustration and chime in to add their negative experiences?  Or, for better or worse, offer solutions to the problems being voiced?It’s now not unusual for other customers to respond to social media support requests before the contact center even has a chance. Peer-to-peer support is a growing trend, and one the contact center must embrace. But there are several things to consider:

  • What happens when a peer jumps in with the wrong answer?
  • Should the contact center track the product of support related conversations customers have their peers ?  If so, how?
  • How can companies best reward their loyal customers for taking part in support conversations?

Although the idea of peer-to-peer support is not new, social is the new online help page. When asked whether they’d prefer to seek support through an online forum, or via social media, nearly half of adults 18-49 said social media.  And that number is only sure to grow in the coming years.

That’s exactly why Joshua march, CEO of Conversocial, says his company recently released a new app called CROWDS.

CROWDS gives companies the ability to moderate the peer-to-peer customer service interactions already happening on Twitter, increasing customer satisfaction, extending word of mouth, improving customer loyalty and reducing costs for effective customer service.

I had a chance to talk with March last week and he seems optimistic that this app will forever change the way businesses manage social media support.

“Customers today are more knowledgeable than ever, and have more platforms than ever to voice their opinions,” said March.  “Empowering customers to join the support conversation is a win for everyone.  While customers trust brands less than ever, they trust their peers more. Contact centers must use this to their advantage.”

CROWDS allows companies to just that, by rewarding the brand advocates who are already serving as a first point of contact.  It also gives the contact center complete visibility, and the ability to respond in real-time.

Empowerment + structure + faster, improved service seems like a winning combination!  What do you think?

How is your contact center currently managing peer-to-peer support?  Are your support forums still active, or do you see more customers turning to Twitter and Facebook for help?  Share your experiences in the comments!

Erica is the Community Specialist at ICMI. With a background in marketing, public relations, and social media, she brings more than six years of community management experience to ICMI, and is particularly passionate about  the convergence of marketing and customer service. 

Erica graduated Cum Laude from Campbell University in North Carolina.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, watching sports, attending concerts, and drinking coffee.  She’s also a self-professed Twitter addict. Follow her on Twitter: @ens0204.

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