The 3 secrets to an exceptional customer experience

​The recent Temkin Experience Ratings Report showed the first drop in customer experience in its five years. The report surveyed more than 10,000 consumers about their experience with 293 companies, and of the 20 industries included, only four saw an increase in positive customer experience, while 16 recorded a drop. 

It’s no secret that we’re well into the age of the empowered customer, but those results illustrate what that actually means for many businesses. Quite simply, customer expectations have never been higher. Even a quick look at the report shows that customers require more personalized, immediate, and available service. 

Yet some channels, by their very nature, are prone – and more sensitive – to perceived delays. Chief among them is social media. In a world where a social media conversation travels faster than an earthquake, responses must be instantaneous to keep customers engaged and happy. But many companies can’t keep up with this pace: An American Express survey of consumers showed that 35 percent of respondents rarely or never receive a response or have their complaints resolved through social media.

Social platforms present several unique challenges to exceptional customer service. For it to be truly effective, it must be integrated fully into the customer journey – the sum total of interactions a consumer has with a company – and must be carried out in real time. But social media is in many ways a different ball game, requiring different skills and practices than those that have been refined for years on other channels. 

With that in mind, here are the three ways that any business can master social media customer service. 

1. Know the customer journey. Social media is just one pillar in any successful customer engagement strategy. And the personalized service that consumers demand starts with consistency across all those channels. Customers expect their interactions with a company to be connected and seamless, so that the details of all their interactions carry over from conversation to conversation, no matter which of your employees they speak to and regardless of whether it’s by phone, tweet, or face to face.

By breaking down the barriers between channels and analyzing customer behavior, you can create a holistic view of customers’ purchases, conversations, and other behavior to optimize their experience and create a faster, more pleasing journey. 

2. Act in real time. Knowing the customer journey, however, doesn’t do much good if customer service reps don’t have those insights the moment a customer contacts your company. With the right tools, your team can immediately see a customer’s entire history with your company, and understanding that context, better personalize the experience. Especially when it comes to social media, any delay could not only lose you a customer but ding your reputation as well. 

If a social media complaint goes unanswered for too long, the swarm of posts that can seize on a single incident might only be magnified when you eventually respond. Real time speed nips complaints in the bud and can win over customers, especially if the response keys into their customer journey. 

3. Hone the right skill sets. Comcast recently tripled its social media team to better handle customer requests on Facebook and Twitter. Now 60 members strong, this social media team will have the same tools available to it as customer service reps in Comcast’s call centers, and will allow the media company to provide faster social media service as well as bilingual service across more hours of the day. 

Comcast’s move to build a team of social media specialists speaks to the diversity of talent needed to handle different platforms of customer contact. The verbal skills that allow a skilled call center operator to convey a smile by phone, for example, don’t easily correlate to Twitter. 

Social media carries different expectations and nuances that shape the customer experience. Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms require agents to think quickly on their feet and convey a message simply, clearly, accurately, and, especially in the case of Twitter, concisely. 

With the right ecosystem, organizations can use customer engagement analytics to hone those skills by examining agent responses. Consistent analysis will reveal quality issues that need improvement and allow a business to better measure and manage a social media team.  

How to meet growing customer expectations
The challenge of today’s customer service is that the customer experience must be seamless across all platforms, and yet delivered in real time by teams specialized to those different media, whether by phone, Facebook, Twitter, or even in person. And while the skills needed for success can differ considerably, real-time insights into the customer journey can help organizations ensure more positive outcomes and more happy customers. ​