Should you outsource your social customer service?

by • September 11, 2017 • BlogComments (0)1572

Delivering high quality social customer care is a real challenge for many businesses. Social is a highly visible channel and any mistakes can be costly. Customers expect a speedy, personalised response that solves their issue.   Outsourcing this to a specialist is one way to stay ahead of the game, but is it right for your brand?

  • 88% of organisations expect digital customer interactions to overtake voice by 2020 or sooner (State of Customer Experience 2017)
  • 83% of UK customer service outsourcing contracts were multichannel in the first half of 2016, compared to just 50% in 2015 (Arvato UK Outsourcing Index)
  • Just 29% of organisations are confident they can deliver a seamless customer experience across multiple channels (State of Customer Experience 2017)

For brands who need to upscale their social customer service provision quickly, outsourcing could be an efficient option to consider.  It can quickly provide the scale to deal with peak volume periods, or provide back-up or out of hours coverage.

But how will you stay in control of service delivery on your social channels to ensure the service delivered matches your brand aspirations and your customer’s expectations?

Before diving in head-first there are considerations.  To provide an effective service any outsourcer will need to work seamlessly with your sales, marketing and operations and share information across the departments.  Customers often try all communication channels, tweeting, phoning and emailing about the same issue.  You must ensure each channel responds in a consistent manner, so the customer doesn’t receive different information from each channel.

To help you evaluate if outsourcing social customer service is right for you we’ve outlined the most common benefits and challenges, as well as our top tips for social success!

Benefits of outsourcing

  • SpeedCustomer expectations on response times are now around 15 mins. This can be hard to achieve if you have a small team, or aren’t using a dedicated social customer service tool. Using an outsourcer means you can set guaranteed response rates and SLAs around response times.
  • Scalability – For businesses who don’t require a year-round 24/7 service, using an outsourcer to provide back-up during peak busy hours can be a valuable solution. You don’t have the cost of running a large team all year round, which can be especially useful if your social volume spikes are seasonal. The ability to quickly upsize the team can also be valuable during a crisis when volumes can grow exponentially without warning.
  • Experience and expertise – A good outsourcer will work with all relevant social tools and understand how to get the best from them, meaning you will get the best solution for your business needs.
  • Cost efficiency– Using an outsourcer for social customer service can bring significant cost savings. For out of hours service or peak period coverage it means you only pay for agents when you need them. There are no recruiting or training headaches.  Skilled staff are already in place, so you can get your service up and running quickly and often at a lower cost than doing it internally.
  • Data analysis – An experienced outsourcer can provide you with a full set of regular reports to give you a 360 degree view of what’s happening on your social channels. You could also combine this with social CSAT or NPS customer satisfaction surveys to really understand the value the social team are providing.

Potential challenges

  • Service consistency – In tone and language. It can be difficult for outsourced agents to fully replicate brand personality and tone of voice.  Any outsourced agents must be fully versed in the brand personality and communication style. A customer service playbook with real-life examples will help things stay on track and provide clear guidelines.
  • Risk of disconnection – Outsourced social customer service needs to be fully connected to the brand. Customers often use multiple contact points and the brand must ensure they receive a consistent answer from each. Ensure your outsourcer uses a social customer service tool with the ability to view past conversations to ensure agents can easily track back to previous interactions. This will also avoid having the customer repeat information multiple times.

Whether you decide to outsource your social customer service or to build your own team in-house, here are a few key tips we’ve put together to help you provide the best social customer service experience possible.

4 Key tips for social customer service success

  1. Integration – Whether using an outsourcer or working in-house your social team will need to be familiar with not only your products and services, but also have an understanding of company culture and values. Social is an instantly visible channel and all responses need to be in tune with the values and brand personality.
  2. Shared objectives – Agree a vision for your social customer service strategy and define your success criteria. Be specific about details such as what response times should be and ensure you get regular data and metrics to measure performance. This is equally as important for in-house teams as it is for outsourcers. Be sure you have a process in place to collect feedback and suggestions about product development or new ideas to support proactive customer service.
  3. Use the right tool for the job – Monitoring mentions natively means there is a real risk of missing important messages. A specialist social customer tool such as Sentiment enables you to set up intelligent workflows and automations to automatically route messages to the right team and manage any volume spikes.
  4. Leverage your data – Track and monitor your key social customer service data to benchmark performance, and identify emerging trends or changing customer behaviour over time. A social command centre dashboard will show real-time information and will provide team leaders and contact centre managers with highly visible, actionable intelligence.

To learn more about scaling up your social customer service, read our guide: How To Handle Social Customer Service At Scale

Sentiment works with many of the leading customer service outsourcers as well as helping in-house social teams achieve social response times of 3 minutes or less. Find out how – request a demo

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