Social Media Monitoring-Basics

A common social media issue for companies around the world is: if one of my customer posts something that requires immediate corporate response on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network, will the message even be heard, or will it be buried in the overwhelming amount of posts online? Many companies face this issue and the lack of real-time visibility in social media interactions is a blind-spot in customer experience.

As the immense amount of social posts increase daily, contact centers need a social monitoring and analytical tool to listen, respond and report the social interactions of their customers. Lack of proper social media monitoring will result in unresponsive customer service, increasing rate in customer churn and the spread of negative word of mouth. And there is no other media like social media that can reach a mass population at such a pace.

Recent surveys report:

  • 71% of online complaints are due to traditional service delivery failures

  • 82% of customers are more likely to cease spending money for a company that they have had negative experience with

If you fail to pay attention to customers on social media, you are delivering an incomplete customer experience. This will result in frustrating your customers, and frustrated customers will not wait for a second try, they would take their business elsewhere. As a result, your customers will go to your competitors if you are not meeting them at this critical digital channel. But with so many customers to look after, and the immense amount of their social posts makes it difficult for companies to filter out the non-relevant interactions from mission-critical posts that requires immediate action. For this purpose, most companies use leverage on social media monitoring tools to listen and respond, but many companies use manual tools that makes it a tedious and inaccurate task since they lack sophisticated analytical capabilities that are required.  Due to this, 86% of customer feedback or posts are missed.

Latest social monitoring tools are equipped with advanced analytical functionalities that are capable of understanding the intent of customers. Understanding customer intent is critical in gaining customer insights that will facilitate in responding to the customer, identifying the core issue and optimizing social channels.


Demystifying Digital Channels

Todays digital channels, especially social media and mobile technologies have dramatically changed the way consumers communicate, interact share and spread information. Proliferation of smartphones has a huge role to play for this transformation. But, while the public adores the emergence of new consumer technology, it can give customer experience executives a heartburn.

Social medias have been able to transform communication pathways in such a way, providing customers a power that they were quite unaware a decade ago. This power is been leveraged  for better customer service and better quality. A small fraction of anger or frustration can turn into a harsh 140-character rant with a global reach. Bad reviews posted socially can have a drastic impact on the brand and reputation of companies, it may even risk their survival.

Most of the companies have realised the potential impact of social and mobile technologies, but only a few have tend to think about them in the context of customer service and overall experience. Many companies still view these technologies as a platform for marketing and communication responding selectively to vocal customers. Companies should come out of their shell where they merely use mobile technologies in the context of mobile applications for corporate branding and messaging. They should understand that mobile users are immune to such means of communication and they prefer actual customer service as and when they wish, rather than being redirected to customer support.

Social and mobile technologies holds many opportunities to reach out to customers at precise moments of need to serve them better. Social and mobile has their own unique strengths and capabilities; social media has the one-to-many approach, allowing your company’s voice to be heard by millions, whereas mobile has the power to provide personalized attention to customers. Companies should start investing in these technologies to leverage each channels strengths to meet business objectives.

To deliver great customer experience requires personal and consistent approach, and for this purpose, the agents are to be armed with context and customer information to interact and resolve customer queries. Each channel should be tightly integrated and should reflect this purpose. Companies should make sure that agents do not interact with their customers blindly, which may lead to high attrition rates. When customer tweets, the agent should be able to know who tweeted, their previous interactions over the phone, email, chat or mobile, their previous issues and resolutions.

With history and context across all channels and touch-points, agents are empowered to quickly and easily help customers complete their transactions and resolve issues.


Personalized Customer Engagement: Getting Started

Personalized customer engagement is not a one-time occurrence, it is a course of improvement and advancement that requires a tenacious workforce and infrastructure. Once you have a persistent workforce and infrastructure lined up, you can begin the journey of personalized customer engagement.

Organizations aim to deliver world-class, second to none service, to meet the increasingly demanding customer base, who are well aware of their alternatives. Technology has now empowered the customers more than ever. It has changed the game, and the customers have changed the rules.Customers are now digitally connected, socially networked, and always game for technology revolution. They have to access to social networks, mobile applications, technology devices where they are able to connect and access information on the move.

Once the commitment has been made to provide personalized customer engagement, start where the biggest impact can be made: Contact Center. Contact center is the face of your organization, so make sure it is presentable to your customers because this is where you interact most with them.

One of the challenge is the unpredictable nature in the mode of communication. Customers will decide when, and how to communicate with you, and they expect to be appropriately responded through the same with no delays. Another challenge is to gain a comprehensive view of the customer when handling queries and resolving complaints. Customers expect to be known, acknowledged, and respected for their queries. Customer dialogue is not a series of discrete, unique experiences, it is a part of an ongoing relationship. Violating this relationship will result in profound consequences.

Arm your agents with the right technology tools and customer information to provide them with a 360 degree view of the customers, thereby allowing them to instantaneously obtain customer information from multiple systems that typically exist in departmental silos.A contact center technology will seamlessly integrate information from multiple silos and creates comprehensive information without exhausting the time of agents toggling between multiple systems.

Developing such a paradigm of exceptional service with personalized customer engagement, might seem as an overwhelming and daunting task, but once the process has been initiated the goals of increased loyalty and long term revenues can be achieved.

Gameplan for Agent Engagement

“The key to any organisation achieving excellent customer satisfaction is having systems in place that engage your staff in delivering unprecedented service and ongoing self-improvement”

It might sound as an overstatement, but Agents are the heart and soul of contact centers, and engaging them in business process, especially, communication based business processes is critical for the quality of service delivered. To improve agent performance, contact center executives should make sure that agents are adequately engaged. Here are four ways to boost agent engagement.

  1. Make Contact Center as a part of the Corporate Culture: Contact center should function as a part of the organization, that functions as per the corporate culture. Call centers are not be treated as an extension but as a crucial part of the system. Normally the culture followed at contact centers and the enterprise are different, discouraging the agents. Perpetuate a culture of agent ownership and autonomy.

  1. Reward: Rewarding your contact center agents for the efforts they put in is essential for motivating the employees for self improvement. Establish reliable performance metrics, and incentivize agents according to their performance. Agents wish to be acknowledged and appreciated for the efforts they have put in satisfying the customers.

  1. Equip the Right Technology: Finally, arm your agents with the right kind of technology that makes their life easier. Analyse the performance metrics, and identify venues that require structured and technological improvement. These opportunities should be viewed as a profit center rather than a cost center. There are technology solutions like call-back that will help your agents in enhancing their productivity by minimising abandon rates, smoothing call spikes, etc.

  1. Focus on metrics that drive positive agent experience: Coveting on straight productivity metrics is one of the quickest ways to destroy employee morale and satisfaction. Contact centers might talk about how employee-focused and customer focused they are, but their real focus is on numbers. AHT and Call handled per hour metrics encourages the agents to focus on numbers rather than what actually matters; Customer satisfaction. Contact centers are to embrace customer-centric metrics like First Call Resolution, Contact Quality, and Customer Satisfaction.

It’s time for terms like “Average Handling Time”, “bottom line” and “ call handled” to move over and make room for “agent engagement”. Obsess over the first set of terms and you’ll  end up with poor results and obsessing over the last term will boost your revenues and agent productivity.

Employing Six Sigma in Contact Centers

The essence of contact centers lies in quality control. Quality control has been about identifying and establishing performance metrics and measuring whether they were achieved during the normal course of operations. On the other hand, six sigma focuses on the defect rates and the methods to reduce them.

In manufacturing environments, it is clearly possible to identify performance metrics and also to establish tolerance levels of defection at every stage of the process. Six sigma principles allows them to measure whether the defect rates are within acceptable levels, and if not, adjust the process until the measures fall within the ranges of acceptable defection.Continuous improvement is an important Six Sigma approach, wherein the tolerance requirements are gradually exacted until they reach defined SIx Sigma level of 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

This approach shall be a daunting task for contact centers, due to the lack of precision and replicability of manufacturing process. But this approach is fundamental for contact centers to improve on their customer service and to develop and establish competitive edge. Recent studies have clearly indicated that the main imperative for contact centers is cost control. Contact centers strive to identify opportunities to optimize on their cost structures by reducing the average call duration, minimize repeated calls, improve agent productivity and reduce head count and encourage the use of self-assisted service channels.

Transforming contact centers into profit centers have been proved theoretically, but practically, the number of unsuccessful stories have overshadowed the successful. The main barriers in this transformation are insufficient workforce training and investments. These barriers are deeply rooted into the contact center culture and management. Another major barrier would be process change, which will account for the major transformations in the operational activities.

Achieving successful improvements through process changes would require a clear and in depth understanding of every stage of the process. Examining the shortcomings and defects and establishing alterations that are capable to overcome them.

There are two obstacles to achieving this transformational improvement. One, is that contact centers rely heavily on manpower; agents are the most influential factors in contact centers, and, second being the difficulty in examining the end-to-end processes involved, both within the center and enterprise.

Looking across the enterprise is difficult for contact centers that discourage integration between multiple communication channels that harnesses seamless and synchronized communication. CRM approaches are to be inculcated into the culture, where a complete lifecycle of the customer is tracked and displayed.

There is a 3-step solution to this problem;

  1. Understanding the strategic objectives of the organization, measuring the defects and establishing process improvements.

  2. Optimizing processes, manpower and technologies to improve their suitability for process improvements and transformational changes.

  3. Align the improvement program, by transforming the process, education people and improving the support technology.

Once the improvement program is carried out, the organization is to measure the performance metrics and the defect rates, and repeat the process continuously to gain more.


How to Extinguish a Social Media Wildfire

Consumers are talking about companies and their experiences like never before. They wish to share their experiences with strangers that have an opinion. According to a recent survey, consumers that have a bad experience share it with 57 people, and if they have a good experience they will tell on average 42 people. This figure could be treated as a bare minimum. With the influx of social medias, consumers have been influenced to share their experiences at every stage, and each shared experience has the resource and competence to reach millions of consumers. This is the age of social medias.

Social media platforms have facilitated companies to frequently interact with their customers. This when treated as an opportunity to build customer loyalty and customer retention, social medias are double-edged swords. These platforms have allowed customers to air their complaints and problems with zero hesitance to the social world.

Social media has given customers a platform to voice their complaints and expectations to prompt responses, but has also provided customers to improve their resolution strategy and value proposition. But if social medias are handled badly, it could ruin the reputation of the business, but if handled rightly, social medias can be used to transform a negative experience into a positive for the company, it would incentivise the customer to remain with the company. Here are a few tips, that could help you get on to the better side of the customer with social medias. Extinguish a social wildfire, before it begins.

  1. Be responsive: Always be responsive when handling customer complaints. Customers expect a quick reply from the company when they have raised a complaint. Quick resolution would make the customer feel important and valuable, this would turn them into evangelists in the future.
  2. Multi-channel communications: Make sure customers multiple channels are provided to distressed customers to reach companies. And always go for consistency in them, seamless exchange and an integrated platform is what the customers expect from a company in which they have invested their time and resource.
  3. Customer is always right: This might be a bitter pill to swallow, probably illogical, but it should be accepted. Acknowledge the customers complaints and problems and try to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Never ignore a customer’s complaint or refuse to accept the complaint as legitimate. On social media, think and act beyond the customer, thinks about the audience that is watching your every move, waiting for you to flaw. Customers are able to observe the efforts that you put in, when finding a solution to their problem, and they will repay you by staying loyal to your company and help you in winning over more customers. Spending money on social media monitoring software and tools can be one of your best investments ever made.

Like Gladiators- Get out There and Do It!!!

Last Friday when I wanted to attend a stand up comedy event and had to pre-book the tickets through bookmyshow, I came across a payment option of redeeming Payback points by entering your phone number. Not knowing anything about Payback points, I thought to give it a try only to realize I had enough points to also sponsor tickets for the other 2 friends attending the event. Believe it or not, this feeling was nothing less than cracking the JEE.

By this write up, i want to emphasize on the little surprises that we come across every now & then, never realizing that we always had them just waiting to be grabbed.

Until recently I was a usual IT graduate with an year’s experience holding my fort good and concentrating on my work irrespective of the outside world, when I was introduced to a coding competition @ my workplace – Code Gladiators. Skeptical of the fact that this is going to eat my time, I chose to stay distant until I was forced into it by my colleagues. Given that almost 20 colleagues were appearing for it, I was elated to see myself featuring in the top 2  from my company going into the second round, which both me & Dilip were comfortably able to qualify and found ourselves in the final 60.

Well, let me tell you why this feeling was unusual.

Have you ever won a bicycle race with your best friend? That’s the feeling of victory.

Have you ever purposely got that test book signed from your father where you accidentally scored a 20/20? That’s the feeling of recognition.

These are the two highs that no other feeling can provide. Just imagine that these two clubbed in a single moment. That is where I was. Elated, exuberant and palpitating I reached the battleground and the final round began.

Honestly, I was not nervous for the fear of losing as I had never expected even to be there in the first place, but because I could not believe that I was there among the top 60. So many companies, such academic credentials, years of experience, industry-wide exposure were my competitors when I put myself to test. Boom, I got a perfect 200. Nailed it. Elated again. Looked at Dilip, he said 200. Nervous again.

Till, the results got out, I was that hapless kid we all used to know in school who cares about the results of the entire class but his own.

And now that I sit at my daily office cubicle, the world looks different. The sound of “Cheers Veere” after being recognized as the best coder gives me that drive, that zeal that i would want to achieve more.

I want to say that many a time, we come across new experiences, and the excitement and happiness we drive out of it makes us do it again. And again. Lets have the high of happiness and always have the hunger to achieve more.

The mantra is – Get out there & Do it. Nothing shall hold you back !!

Power up Customer Service in Healthcare

Improving and leveraging on patient engagements has become a crucial element in the healthcare industry to keep up with the growing demand for quality services and meet transparency and legal compliance. An aging population requires the best of treatments, and would opt for such a center where they offer such treatments; but the quality and endurance of the treatment alone will not help the center. Along with the best healthcare facility provided, the center ought to provide efficient and effective customer service. Hence, healthcare providers are seeking ways to operate more efficiently without compromising on delivering high standards of patient care.

Patients have high expectations for self-service access to their personal information including medical records, history logs, confirmation updates, health reminders, educational updates etc,. Self-service options are migrating patient inquiries from the medical staff; enabling the staff to dedicate their time in delivering better standards of care.

Delivering great customer service is not a matter of happenstance, healthcare providers will have to invest their resources in implementing a suitable technology solution that will ease patient interactions and reduce costs in the long run. Contact Center technologies help in breaking communication silos that were previously independent of each other, enabling the agents to track and access information when required; without overwhelming the agents with information. This allows the agent to utilise the context and resources available, and apply them in furnishing best practices to resolve patient issues.Routing technologies also plays a crucial role in delivering intuitive experience to the patient; routing the interaction to the agent that has the best resources to resolve the patient’s issue.

  • Break departmental silos: Patients records and prescriptions are often a difficult task to manage efficiently. Technology solutions will facilitate in prioritize and proactively distributing tasks. Smart technology solutions will also play a hand in gaining on operational efficiency, meeting SLA’s and  maintaining legal and regulatory compliance

  • Proactive notifications: Patients will be informed on their appointments and other information avoiding the call center to be swamped by agents looking for the patient’s information.

  • Proactive Web Engagement: Technology solutions monitor social medias and keep track of customers logs; this helps in resolving the patient’s issue before they wish to switch to costlier channels of interaction.

  • Reduce Call Abandonment Rates: Smart technology solutions regulate and track abandoned calls and provides contact information to agents allowing them to call back the patient, which otherwise would be offend the patient.

With the help of smart technologies, that aspires to transform customer service at all levels of the organization, healthcare providers will be able to drastically improve their operational efficiency and customer experience while minimizing operational overheads.