Digital dilemmas: How can I mitigate risk and maximise efficiency?

In the first of a new series, our digital expert explains the best way to manage social customer service.

As dealing with social customer service complaints becomes increasingly important, what processes should I put in place to mitigate risk and maximise efficiency in my organisation?

Social customer service can be seen as a hot potato, which can lead to an absence of internal ownership and blurred lines of responsibility. Take the initiative and bring together the heads of marketing, customer care, buying and in-store to agree on objectives and develop a unified tone of voice across customer service channels.

Too often customer service teams are the last to know about marketing initiatives and promotions that can generate significant volumes of queries. As well as circulating reports on past performance, share future marketing calendars with stakeholders so they are not constantly playing catch-up.

Effective measurement and benchmarking

Agree clear service level agreements for response times to online customer care queries and ensure these are understood across the organisation. Measure these religiously, so that inevitable and high-profile examples of poor online customer service can be quickly put into a proper context, before panic breaks out.

Benchmark your performance against competitors on an ongoing basis using third-party analytics tools such as Socialbakers, but also spend time immersed in their communities so you can share best practice. For an accurate picture, evaluate across your competitive set, not just against the one key competitor with which the organisation is obsessed. Capture the hard statistics, but also share the insights gleaned from individual customer comments.

Effective assessment of risk

The visibility and scrutiny given to social customer care can lead to undue fear and paralysis that can be a drain on your time. Instil confidence in customer service teams by helping them to categorise comments as fact-based queries, customer specific transactional queries, brand-level accusations etc.

Customer queries in higher-risk categories should have a pre-agreed response and escalation process. A crisis response team should be in place that brings together all social customer care stakeholders as well as representatives from legal, ethics, investor relations and external PR agencies. All colleagues should be aware that an escalation process is in place so a rogue tweet is not automatically forwarded for the CEO's immediate attention.

Diffusion is an international integrated communication agency with offices in London and New York. Our consultants use the power of storytelling, conversation and recommendation to help brands connect with audiences. We use our creativity to deliver campaigns that empower, engage and persuade - always with an absolute focus on measurable business results.'

Daljit Bhurji, global managing director, Diffusion

Bhurji has more than 15 years of experience in public relations as a trusted adviser to some of the world's leading brands, companies and political organisations. He founded Diffusion to help clients build integrated communications campaigns that connect with audiences across traditional, digital and social media.

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