Dr. Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insight & Futures at BT Global Services presented the a fascinating case study on BT’s social media strategy at Customer Experience Tech Fest in 2015. She revealed how BT serves the social customer and shares insights to help you look good on the social dance floor (and avoid getting slapped!).
BT is the UK’s biggest broadband and mobile phone provider. Their consumer division serves 12 million customers, and there are about 100,000 customer contacts coming through the contact centers every day.
About ten years ago, when social media was still in its fledgling stage, BT worked out that there were people talking about them on the new social media channels, and they decided that that needed to find out what was being said – it was time to get onto the social dance floor.
That first decision, ‘should we get onto social media?’ was not taken lightly. As a company or brand BT realized that you do need to be in the social media space to some extent, but there’s no need to rush onto the dance floor.
BT’s Debatescape Program
BT utilized a program called Debatescape to great effect. This program watches Facebook and Twitter and other social media channels, searching for keywords to identify when customers were talking about them.
One of the most important things that BT learned in those early days is how seriously people take their communication, and the importance of having excellent access to BT’s products and services. Nowadays when broadband goes down, it is a literal family emergency that needs to be dealt with accordingly.
BT’s approach to ‘watching the social dance floor’ and working out how and when to engage was highly effective. BT realized that it’s hard to control the social dance floor, but a combination of good observational skills, a solid strategy and courage to go and dance appropriately will see the best results in the long term.
The Public vs. Private Quandary
It’s important to remember that social media is in the public space. However you deal with social media interactions, it is always visible to the world. Sometimes a decision must be made to move a conversation from a public stream on social media, into a private stream like telephone or email. Therefore a multi-channel strategy is needed, as well as the skill and knowledge to be able to seamlessly transfer a customer over to a private channel from a public channel.
How BT Communicates With Customers on Social Channels
- Comments: While sometimes very entertaining, comments do not always need to be interacted with.
- Complaints: These need to be dealt with regardless of just how hard they could be. It’s not enough to just say sorry – people want their problems fixed. The problem is often the people working social media channels do not have the capabilities to deal with and fix problems. An apology needs a follow up, as well as problem solving.
- Compliments: There is a lot of positive commentary to be seen, especially on Facebook. While it not always necessary to interact, it must be remembered that compliments demonstrate exactly what your customers want.
- Questions: Some questions are very important, but not all need to be dealt with. Some are light-hearted and do not have a serious need behind them. Flippant or humorous interaction might be setting a precedent going forward that is hard to keep up with. It is important, however, to listen very carefully to the questions, as they do give a lot of information about your customers’ movements on the social media dance floor.
Here are 5 ways to look good on the social media dance floor:
1. Immediacy is Key
Through the sample analysis it can be ascertained that 70% of global customers expect feedback in 15 minutes. When this doesn’t happen, customers who are well versed in social media sometimes shift channels in frustration. Often, the channels are not talking to each other as policy, which exposes the silo approach. At times different channels give different answers and responses to problem solving, further exposing the silo approach and attracting customer negativity.
2. Carefully Consider Your Social Media Resourcing
BT decided against setting up a unique social media team and instead incorporated social media specialists from their digital team. Shared resources made more sense, as when the social media streams were quiet, the team could revert back to their digital formats like emails and web chats. This also led to better internal communications and less silo differentiation.
3. Define Social’s Role in the Overall Customer Experience
BT found that it is imperative to include social media into the customers’ journey. The social media communication needs to be open and honest at all times. There is nothing as see through as ineffective social media policies to an irate customer. It must be remembered that sometimes the customer doesn’t want to engage, but the other normal communication channels have failed, and social media is the last resort for that unhappy customer.
4. Have a Centralized Response Strategy
Social media in the contact center needs to be centralized and needs to avoid silo responses. A control center needs to know how to deal with certain customers, and who to forward the customer on to should there be a specialist on-hand. A control center dialed into the company social media streams and policies will enable a quicker and more satisfying resolution process.
5. Have Clearly Defined Channels
Social media needs to have clearly defined channels – a specific @handle for a specific topic, as opposed to numerous handles within a single corporation is much more effective. Confusing a customer with too many social media streams is the easiest way to lose that customer. The public to private stream switch is a delicate shift and needs to be dealt with as such.
BT has certainly found that the social media dance floor can be tricky to navigate. If your communications are great but your customer focus isn’t, your reputation can be devastated by one angry person skilled in social media. But that’s no reason to stay on the sidelines- jump on the dance floor now!
For more insights into effective customer engagement strategies, register for Customer Experience Tech Fest 2016.