Think global, act local: How retailers can improve social customer engagement

05 June 2017 by Anita Matthews

In a global economy, brands need to be able to support customers on social media who speak a number of languages and ensure they have the right resources to effectively manage interactions in appropriate time zones.

The reality is companies have a whole heap of potential problems to overcome first. Retailers need to fathom out how to bridge customer service cultures and resource, translate and manage workflow. They also need to have night vision and stay alert on unpredictable social platforms where a comment can go viral elsewhere just when your local teams are catching some Zzzzs or are not on shift yet. The social customer service solution you use will be the bedrock of how you manage all of this alongside any strategic planning.

We've put together a few tips to bear in mind when scoping out, or fine-tuning, your multi-national customer care strategy, whether you have a central service team working across multiple languages, or in-house support teams based in established markets.

Customer service cultures

This may sound obvious, but if your agents are supporting customers in global markets then cultural sensitivity must be applied. Relaxed language in a tweet to a UK customer may not go down well in Tokyo, say. You should include a section on cultural sensitivity and offensive language in your social media playbook.

Channel choice

Do your research to understand customer behaviours and the social channels and apps they prefer in different regions. For example in China WeChat is the dominant web chat platform in Asia, while WhatsApp has a stronger presence in the UK.

Om Bhatia, assistant vice president digital programs (Asia Pacific) for AIG's consumer insurance unit, recently talked about how WeChat was in the ascendency in Asia. This is what Bhatia said, at ClickZ Live in Hong Kong, about how it becoming a key trend in the region and how it was evolving from a customer service app:

"WeChat is so brilliant that you can not only connect with your brand and have a conversation, but you can also make and receive payments from your friends, and buy insurance ... It's somewhere all other chatting applications have to reach. That's where it's all going to go: from customer service to actually buying and selling on those platforms."

Check whether your vendor has the dexterity to integrate regional networking sites beyond Twitter and Facebook. For example, we recently extended customer engagement in Russian and East European markets by integrating two of the most powerful Russian social networking sites: VK and This was a direct response to the increasing growth of social in the region to help our clients overcome any language barriers in delivering and managing effective social customer service programmes.

When to listen

If you are a large brand or outsourcer and have high volumes of inbound messaging from customers in different time zones, then there is not really a way around providing 24/7 support on social channels in your core languages. If you offer online ordering, where customers need real-time information and support on the go wherever they are, you need to be equipped to do this.

Brands who don’t yet have the volume to justify a 24/7 service should display service hours clearly on their Twitter homepage so customers understand when to expect a response.

Workflow and language skills

Whether you are a big brand with a team of language specialists, or a smaller enterprise that only receives a few mentions outside of native languages, you need to optimise team productivity and the social customer service solution you invest in.

  • Use the analytics function in your tool to assess volumes and peaks to resource staffing and/or language skills.
  • Make sure the social customer service solution you use has global capabilities with translation integration. This will also help you optimise and translate any automations you use to filter out and prioritise mentions for the right language specialist to action.
  • Country-specific spam filters will help to reduce noise on different social platforms.
  • Smart queue systems will help agents with specific language skills prioritise comments in their queues. Route country accounts to the right location agents, and route any additional comments in specific languages away from your main profiles. The language specialist then has a single queue to work through. This ensures 360-degree visibility on main accounts is maintained to ensure comments are not being missed.
  • Large enterprises with high volume activity on country accounts could set up workflow by region, and just share relevant accounts, streams and locations with individual agents. This gives agents the flexibility to swap between the different locations they cover. You will also be able to report by location to ensure you are meeting SLAs, and measuring KPIs and agent performance.
  • Again use automations to track marketplace promotions in key territories to prioritise comments for location specialists to respond to.
  • Give agents links to share with customers to encourage self-serve on websites with different language options.

Personalised content

Brands need to make sure they can analyse global interactions to revamp marketing strategies and personalise content. Unified social customer service solutions with insight and publishing functionality will be a big help here. While customers interact with businesses at different touch points, brands need to align internally to better serve customers and leverage insight to help marketing teams hone content for different audiences in different regions.

Seraphina Wong, executive director of global advertising, brand management and head of Asia Pacific at UBS, highlighted strategy and consumer insights as a key trend at ClickZ Live. Wong predicted that deep humanisation of brands will the brave new world of marketing content:

"Really listen enough, not just to go back to creating marketing content, but to actually have the empathy and start caring about what you are selling ... And only when you start doing that can you begin to win hearts, and only then can you start to sustain your marketing in the long-term".

For more best practice advice on improving your social customer service try our essential guide:
Social customer service for retailers or get a free demo of the Sentiment platform

Social Customer Service Playbook For Retailers

Tags: UBS, Customer Service, contact centre response time, ROI, retail, online retailers, Sentiment Analysis

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