Can Social Be a Customer Service Disaster Recovery Solution?

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Social media is no longer the newest or shiniest customer service channel but it’s safe to say it still has not reached its full potential. Part of that potential was inadvertently revealed last weekend when a Southwest Airlines computer glitch prevented some passengers from checking in for their flights and causing delays around the U.S. While the outage frustrated some customers, Southwest alertly utilized their Twitter troops to engage and assist customers and fill the void the web glitch created. Scoble SW

This event brings to light the potential of social customer service as a disaster recovery channel. Not that Twitter never goes down, but an active and mature Twitter presence gives customers an easy and effective alternative to get status updates, make changes even purchases and reservations like they were able to on @SouthwestAir.

So to get an idea on how customer service organizations might use Twitter as a disaster recovery option, I went directly to an Aspect subject matter expert, Phi Sherer. Phil works with Aspect’s customers, crafting digital marketing and customer engagement vision, especially pertaining to web and social strategy.


How can a social media presence provide a fallback in the event an organizations other channels experience downtime or outages?

sherer_phil (002)In times of contact center, Web or IT system outages, cloud-based social care platforms allow brands to both proactively notify customers of issues, as well as continue to provide full service directly through Twitter or Facebook for example. The most successful organizations plan for these events by cross-training customer service reps to be prepared for increased volume, or even leverage a business partner or BPO to assist with providing social care during times of high volumes. And it all starts with listening. Social listening strategies and technologies allow social care teams to serve as an early warning system if customers experience any product, service or external issues. By keeping a constant pulse on what customers are saying on social, brands can be alerted for increased volume of conversations, dramatic shifts in sentiment, or even specific products or keywords that customers are mentioning. By identifying these issues early, organizations can quickly make personnel adjustments to other channels during times of high demand and minimize customer frustration. By cross-training customer service reps and leveraging an integrated, omni-channel interaction management solution, contact center managers and agents can move between channels and provide better service in real-time as volumes fluctuate across channels.

How should a company organize their presence on social media in order to provide optimal customer service over social?

The most successful consumer-facing brands take a cross-functional approach to social media with representation from customer care/contact center, marketing, PR/Communications, legal and IT. This approach allows team members to collaborate on social initiatives and provide specific insights on how they interact with the customer based on their role. This in turn creates a complete view of the social customer profile and all his/her interactions with that brand on social. But an interaction history technology solution, like CRM, also captures ALL interactions with the customer to have up to the minute history and context whether on social, email, phone, web chat, SMS or even a physical location visit. The final step in social care maturity is to leverage the omni-channel business process and technology to deliver proactive communications across all channels to pre-empt service issues.