Wednesday, 7 November 2012

UK Online Companies Struggle To Integrate Social Customer Service

New research has found that many UK consumers are being let down by a poor standards of customer service through website, email and social media channels.

(Tesco provide a fantastic experience - try them out @UKTesco) 

The 2012 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study evaluated 100 leading companies on their ability to provide answers to 10 routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email. 

The study found that websites could only answer 53% of customer questions, while company responses to email queries had declined since 2011. Social media use had doubled, although many companies still failed to integrate social media into their overall customer service strategy.

Fashion retailers were best at web customer service, answering 75% of questions asked on their websites, whereas CD/DVD/booksellers and food retailers performed worst, answering just 40% of questions.

Researchers were unable to email nearly a quarter (23%) of the companies in the study, as they either had removed the opportunity for non-customers to contact them through this channel or email addresses were not easy to find. Just 39% of the 100 businesses responded with an accurate answer via email and on average companies took 64 hours and 33 minutes to reply to emails – 44 hours longer than a similar study undertaken in 2011.

In addition, there was a wide variation in response times with two companies replying to email questions in 19 minutes and another taking a month to reply. Overall every one of the ten sectors surveyed answered emails slower than in 2011.

The study also found a huge difference between best and worst - for example, fashion companies answered 75% of questions asked on their websites, while CD/DVD/Booksellers and food retailers replied to only 40%.

While web performance improved from the average of 50% of questions answered in 2011 to 53% in 2012, over a quarter (28%) of companies performed worse in 2012 than last year despite being asked exactly the same questions through the same channels. 

“At a time when recession is putting unprecedented strain on many companies, customer service is critical if businesses want to win and retain consumers – but this study shows that many organisations are still struggling to provide basic information or answer customer emails,” said Dee Roche, global marketing director at Eptica.

“The fact that the performance of many companies has worsened over the last twelve months is disappointing to see – poor service will simply endanger sales in today’s competitive market. Customers want to be able to contact companies through their channel of choice, so businesses need to adopt a joined-up, multichannel approach if they are to meet their needs,” Roche added.

Many companies seemed to be more successful in some channels than in others. Food retailers could only answer 40% of questions asked via the web, but successfully responded to 70% of emails.

The study also looked at how companies were using social media to engage and interact with their customers. On the positive side, social media use had nearly doubled, with 64 companies having Facebook pages (against 33 in 2011) and 70 with Twitter (up from 36 in 2011). However only 11% linked customer service to these social media channels.

Roche said: “Social media is transforming how consumers approach customer service as it provides a megaphone for them to broadcast their complaints to the world. So it is positive to see that companies are embracing this new channel – they now need to integrate it with their overall customer service strategy to deliver a joined-up approach that is both consistent and efficient.” - The Best in Social Business

How The Radio Stations Are Getting Social

There is something both jarring and grimly amusing about hearing aging and/or serious radio presenters talk about Twitter, hash tags and Facebook pages. At the other end of the DJ age range such talk can sound like a mass of achingly modern techno-babble. But social media is a major part of everyday life and radio stations have realised they need to be connected to all the communicating going on around them.
Producers, presenters, broadcast engineers and IT types are still working out exactly how to do that but in the last year Tweets and Facebook postings have joined emails, texts and the old warhorse, live phone calls, as broadcasters up their game not just to get listeners to interact with them but for them to interact with the listeners.
How to make this work was a feature of last year's Radio Academy Festival. In his presentation 'From TOGs to the Twitterati - Connecting Old Media with the Social Media Generation', Dan McQuillin, managing director of software developer and distributor Broadcast Bionics, argued that audiences were ahead of the radio stations in using and exploiting social media.
At next week's festival, to be held again at The Lowry, Salford Quays in Greater Manchester, Bruce Daisley, Twitter's UK director, will present 'Only On Twitter' and discuss how the 140 character online networking message service can bring broadcasters closer to their audiences, as well as "bringing you more of them and making them value you even more".
Broadcast Bionics will be at the Radio Fair exhibition within the Festival to promote PhoneBOX v4 (screen shot pictured), the latest incarnation of the company's call handling system. This builds on previous incarnations by adding management and display of relevant Facebook posts and Tweets alongside information about incoming calls, the music and artist being played and general news or entertainment information, with the ability to arrange everything into different categories, or channels, and distribute it anywhere in a station as necessary.
McQuillin says development of PhoneBOX v4 began 18 months ago based on the idea of going "beyond telephony" and looking a a fuller interactive experience for radio, which he calls "the Social Studio". The aim is to bring "state of the art" social media into the studio where the presenter can work with it and include the audience more in the show.
"We need to break down the walls between the needs of the broadcast studio and the digital/online world," McQuillin says. "The studio side doesn't necessarily need to understand the social stuff, the presenters and producers just want to make something work and talk to the people who want to talk to them."
As with a lot of technology today, the "backend" - how everything actually works and is put together - can remain more or less a mystery to the people using the information it provides. The key thing, McQuillin states, is presenting the information in a way the presenter can use easily. "As soon as a Lady Gaga track is playing we should be able to bring up all social media about her," he explains.
But this is only a part of what McQuillin and other proponents of the Social Studio envisage. "There are varying strands to it, like a series of channels," he says. "There are the different sites for the radio station and people can switch between those according to what is being discussed. The listeners are ahead of the broadcasters in terms of using social media and they don't want to just listen any more. This means there can be sub-channels with people commenting about the station, or talking about the music and the news, with the presenter also having access to feeds so that he/she can contribute to what is going on or start new threads."
The radio studio is unlikely to change fundamentally but, as McQuillin observes, there does need to be a shift in how it operates: "Up to now the radio studio has been the place where information is combined with audio and then pushed out at the audience. Now the process is bi-directional, with the audience getting involved because they want to do more than just passively listen to the radio."
Full integration is likely to pose problems but the biggest shift is likely to be one of perception, how radio people and the audience see themselves today in what has always been a symbiotic relationship, albeit with one previously passive partner. "Stations don't have listeners any more," concludes McQuillin. "The audience wants to be involved as much as possible, so the radio station needs to be the one listening, with bigger ears not a bigger mouth." - The Best in Social Business

Saturday, 3 November 2012

21 Rules For Effective Social Media Marketing Strategies

 - The Best in Social Business

Facebook Phone Is Coming - Just Delayed...

Almost as persistent as rumours that Microsoft is building its own ‘Surface Phone’ are claims that Facebook is also developing a handset of its own. The company has issued numerous denials of this in the past; its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, even stated just over three months ago that it “wouldn't make much sense” for Facebook to build its own device, given that the social network benefits greatly from its ubiquity across multiple platforms.
But the rumour has resurfaced once more, this time via Pocket-lint, who claim that they have a “very reliable source” who’s confirmed that the oft-mooted device is more than just the stuff of hearsay, and is a very real handset that’s currently in development. Indeed, the source says that the handset is being built by HTC and is presently known as the ‘Opera UL’, unambiguously adding that “it is the Facebook phone, made for Facebook”.
A device known as the HTC Opera UL has also appeared on the online NenaMark2 benchmark test, with specs including a 1.4GHz processor of unknown build, a Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU and HD (1280x720px) display, along with Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean.
As for when the mystery handset might be revealed, your guess as is as good as ours. The source said that “apparently, it’s been delayed”, but that obviously says nothing to help narrow down a specific timeframe.
Frankly though, this rumour’s done the rounds so many times that we’ll only really believe it when Zuckerberg confirms it himself. - The Best in Social Business