As follow up to our guide: 15 essential tips on using social media to improve customer service, we're running a series of posts looking at how to use social media to improve customer service programmes. This week we're looking at how to choose the right Social Customer Service tool.There are reportedly over 400 social media monitoring solutions on the market, but very few of these are sufficiently robust - in terms of having comprehensive data, a complete suite of monitoring and engagement features, CRM integration and reporting - to base your social customer service programme on. Fewer still have developed features specifically with customer service in mind.
You may already have a social media monitoring tool in place and seek to repurpose this for customer service. Social customer service trainer and author, Martin Hill-Wilson, urges caution with this approach:
"PR is likely to have used it as an early warning system. Marketing would have initially used it for market insights, thereafter for outreach and engagement. Does the vendor 'get' customer service needs?"
In addition to the platform mindset, organisations need to consider these questions when selecting a platform:
- Are you being provided with comprehensive social customer care data? Can you see a complete 360 degree view of your customer on social?
- Do you have the skill and resources to manage the tool completely yourselves or do you need to have it configured for you?
- Are you interested in monitoring how customers feel about your brand/products? Sentiment analysis can be a valuable KPI of social customer service success.
- Do you want to see an indication of how 'influential' your customers are? This is largely based on reach and activity, so can help to identify social media influencers.
- Do you have specific geographical or language requirements?
- Do you require integration with your CRM or other customer service channels? Will you want to integrate social messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat?
- What social engagement features do you need? Once customers see you can resolve their issue via social media, volumes tend to increase. Ensure your tool is scalable and supports your social team as it grows.
- Are you working towards improving social response times? If so features such as automations or intelligent workflows are useful. .
- What are your reporting requirements? Make sure the platform can produce the information you require in the correct format. Will you want to use the data to measure ROI and track growth in social engagement?
- Will your staff be able to use the platform? Ensure the platform meets the usability levels that your staff requires. If they find it unintuitive or difficult, it probably won't work in a pressurised customer service environment.
- What budget are you working to? Some tools will include initial training and on-boarding as part of the package, others charge extra.
For more useful tips, try our best practice guide.
Editors note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.