May 22, 2019 | 02:02 PM

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26.06.20136 Social Media Insights Bound to Change Your Customer Support

Customer support, as a business function, has been around for almost forever, gathering its fair share of best practices and processes.

Piyanka Jain, Forbes.com

This is a contributed article from Freshdesk as part of Aryng‘s series for customer support leaders.

Customer support, as a business function, has been around for almost forever, gathering its fair share of best practices and processes. But with customers moving their issues from support hotlines to social channels, businesses today are looking for a whole new battery of silver bullets. Freshdesk, a leading customer support solution provider, analyzed data gathered from over 6,000 customers to test whether some popular myths of modern customer support are really what they claim to be.

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1. What we thought: Customers prefer Social Support over eMail

Customers today would rather tweet out their frustrations than stay on hold on a company’s support hotline all day. But how important are social customer support channels? It is easy to assume that Twitter and Facebook have overtaken traditional means of customer support like email and phone.

The reality couldn’t be further from truth. Customers all over the world still largely prefer email (37%) over social support channels (12%). Personal conversations, confidentiality and accountability still seem to weigh in, in favor of email. While the adoption of social customer support channels is still growing, the pace is too slow to be any credible threat to email.

Across industries, businesses preferred to deal more with each other via email (63% prefer email to social) while consumers in B2C settings tend to have a greater preference to social support channels (31% prefer email over social).

2. What we thought: Customers prefer support over Twitter to Facebook

Result: True, but tweets generally mean more bad news than Facebook

In the never ending pursuit of customer satisfaction, businesses nowadays have dedicated pages for support on Facebook and Twitter handles. While customers use both networks for various purposes, they have been found to prefer Twitter (16%)  for support over Facebook (10%). Twitter’s superior search function seems to play a huge role in attracting customers who are in need of support (increased to 16% of total tickets in 2012-13 from 4% from 2011-12).

Customers are using Twitter’s extensive data collation abilities to tweet about product problems. Twitter collates all tweets related to a specific term or product and displays the results in one place, enabling companies to provide support quickly and gauge brand image easily.

However, complaints received via Twitter were found to be tainted with anger and considerably negative sentiment. Support pages on Facebook, on the other hand, contained more constructive criticism about a product and the queries were generally more positive.

3. What we thought: Businesses are faster to respond on Social Support pages than via eMail

Result: True, but follow up questions end up getting redirected to old school

With the rise in prominence of social networks, Online Reputation Management has been given a greater priority. Businesses, with their dedicated pages, wish to have  greater control over shaping the public’s brand perception image. Since customer support is one of the best ways to garner public appreciation, businesses have set up dedicated support pages and are found to be extremely active on it. First response to customers for queries posted on social support pages are 2X faster than those sent via email. More than 30% of Twitter queries were solved at first response.

But analysis shows that businesses do not follow-up on problems after initial contact. Subsequent queries on social support pages are not responded to and more than 27% of Social Media Queries are eventually redirected to email.

4. What we thought: Social Networks force support teams to be more accountable

Result: False. Responsibility doesn’t come out of a new channel

Over 70% of businesses surveyed had an official Facebook Page. The presence of social support pages means that a greater amount of support can be delivered easily to people who are searching for it. Better customer support will get greater brownie points from the public. However, the payoff is that if a product is extremely faulty, then irate consumers will find it very easy to destroy the company’s image. This has given rise to the myth that Social Networks will force teams to be more accountable, which couldn’t be more wrong.

In spite of the increased visibility of dirty linen, support teams are not found to be more accountable. Less than 8% of the businesses surveyed had a specific policy to deal with queries coming in via Social Networks. However, support representatives were more responsible with Twitter queries. A large number of queries (38%) were resolved on first contact and the total number of reassigns were64% lesser than those on Facebook.

5. What we thought: More Support Channels, The Merrier

Result: True. Satisfaction stems from a whole bunch of channels acting together.

Death, Taxes and “Please Hold” on customer support lines are some things which will stay constant in life.

Because of the long wait times that have become synonymous with customer support, consumers are looking in more places to get help for their products. With the huge mind share that Facebook and Twitter have captured, the most obvious place to provide support is on Social Networking sites. With the popularity that dedicated social support pages have, publishing solutions on them will reach a wider audience with minimal effort, as compared to phone lines or email. Maintaining public forums, where other people or fellow consumers can provide solutions, crowd sourcing answers to problems and building wikis to answer FAQs have all resulted in extreme satisfaction ratings.

This is what the businesses have done.

Analysis showed that businesses which had set up multiple channels to provide support received higher satisfaction ratings than those that provided only email or phone support.

6. What we thought: Better Support Leads to Happier Customers

Result: False. There is no help like self-help.

One myth that has been recycled again and again, countless times, is that “Better Support will lead to Happier Customers”. Donald Porter, The VP of British Airways even said,

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect;  They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”

Astonishingly, analysis showed that he is wrong.

Customers do not even expect businesses to fix broken things. They merely expect businesses to equip them with self-help tools. Companies with extensive Knowledge-Base articles, tutorials and those maintaining crowd-sourced support forums were rated extremely high by consumers than those merely providing support.

Of the businesses surveyed, 35% had community forums for product support and knowledge base articles. Of these, 63% found a marked reduction in calls after setting up these self-support portals. The queries that come in despite such self-help tools required deeper technical knowledge and were dealt with by professional support representatives. An extensive self-service experience tends to polarize customers. They either truly love it or absolutely hate it.

This polarization leads to increased brand visibility and recognition, more than could possibly be gained by merely providing good support. The key to Customer Satisfaction does not merely involve good support but also good articles that help them help themselves.



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