By: Tara Jones
This is the exact type of customer that retail brands encounter each day. Their customers prefer to receive service on social media, and fast. In order to handle the volume and demand, the retailer must use a systematic balance of artificial intelligence (AI) and authentic, human-delivered customer care.
On the timeline of marketing and marketing automation, social media is one of the newest business tools for retailers to utilize. And while brands were developing their web sites for marketing purposes, social media became a vehicle for digital customer service overnight. In addition, recent feature updates such as messenger and the deployment of bots present both opportunities and threats, not only to a customer’s experience but also to a brand’s reputation.
But back to our customer. As the company, you have a short window to make her concern a positive experience. While your response time is essential (since the average social media user expects to be assisted within an hour), your empathy and ability to troubleshoot the delay is equally important. This is where social media AI, or the use of bots, can either help or hurt your customer’s experience and your brand’s reputation. By using a bot to immediately acknowledge her message, you are maintaining lightning fast response time and ensuring your customers that they’ve been heard. But can your bot research the cause of the delay? No. That’s why a strategy that implements both bots and human interactions is the best practice for social care.
When developing your bot + agent social care strategies, consider these three points:
1. Bots are beneficial, but they’ll never replace human empathy.
It’s clear in the definition of a bot: a computer program that generates responses based on some input, usually keywords. While this is a solution that can address general inquires 24/7 with immediate responses, every computer-generated system has risks, such as being prone to hackers and being limited to human programming. Most notable, an excessive use of bots runs the risk of dehumanizing your brand.
2. Humans relate best to other humans, but we can’t work ‘round the clock’.
Effective customer support with empathy and emotional intelligence can never be replaced by bots. But depending on your brand and industry, it is probable that your social customer service volume outnumbers your care agent resources. In addition, the operation costs of a large, agent-only care team can quickly add up. The tools, training, and HR costs can become overwhelming.
3. A balance of both is best.
Carefully balancing the use of both bots and customer care agents is often the best strategy for managing social media customer care. This system would allow your company to immediately respond to your customer’s inquiry about her product delay, triage it to an agent who can troubleshoot the delay, and respond again with solutions and empathy — making for the best care experience and a positive brand reputation.
According to the Forrester Research report, The Three Customer Service Megatrends In 2019, “Great customer service is not just about cutting costs or making operations more efficient. Instead, it’s a systematic reinvention of established technology, data, and operations — leveraging automation, data and agents together to exploit each of their unique strengths and deliver experiences in line with customer expectations.”
Develop a social media customer care center by deploying the proper software, employing adequate staffing and creating workflows to deliver both AI and authentic human interactions with your customers.
Tara Jones is an award-winning marketing and communications professional, blogger, social media lecturer and speaker. With more than a decade in communications and social media, her work is focused on helping businesses cultivate meaningful connections with their communities through strategic social media efforts that make people a priority. Jones is a business consultant for Allant Group, which provides marketing technology services that help businesses effectively acquire new customers, retain and grow existing customers and win back lapsed customers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.