9 Tools to Help Fix the Customer Experience Gap

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customer experience

My wife and I decided it was time to replace our washer and dryer. We used technology and our networks to determine the brand that would best suit our needs.

We initially purchased our washer and dryer in a major retail store nearby; we used our credit card from this company to save some additional money. To accommodate our schedules, we requested delivery a couple of months later; we then paid the credit card balance. After the store had attempted to deliver incorrect and damaged products, we decided to return the machines and start over.

Now our task was to get a refund for our credit card payment. First, we contacted the local store and spoke to the department manager who directed us to the online group (who directed us right back to the store).

Then we decided to contact the credit card company directly. Our attempts to contact the credit card company were met with hold times that approached an hour.

Finally, my wife suggested I reach out on social media; I tweeted a simple message including the store and the bank Twitter handles. In less than an hour, I heard from the bank and after that the retail store.

The staff handling both social media accounts were great; they took the conversation offline and were able to put me in touch with those who were able to address the situation. The representative for the bank not only connected me with the retail company’s personnel, he stayed on the line for an extended conversation.

There may be many reasons for this experience. However, gaps due to lack of coordination and communication contributed greatly to a painful and frustrating customer experience. I want to highlight social media’s role in bridging some of these gaps.

How Social Can Help Address Gaps

In my situation different functions and channels created gaps. There was no coordination or communication between the online and offline channel staff. The outsourcing of delivery and credit services created additional gaps.

Sofie DeBeule identifies 4 key principles in her post.

She and I both agree that poor customer service can and most likely will adversely affect a brand.

Following are some of the ways that social can contribute to bridging customer experience gaps. I have included some tools and resources to help where appropriate. Some of the tools may have applications in more than one category.

LISTEN

Social media conversations are going on all the time; some are talking directly about brands, others are more subtle. Most businesses need to be monitoring the Internet in general, and particularly social media platforms where they have a presence.

Those monitoring social media should have guidelines. Here are more thoughts and suggestions for creating social media guidelines for employees.

Following are tools (most are free or have a free version) to facilitate the monitoring process.

Tools:

Google Alerts  – is one of the more common and well-known monitoring tools. Key words or phrases are tracked, and email alerts sent when appropriate.

How Sociable Is a free tool that operates by incorporating algorithms to detect factors other than just the appearance of a search term.

Social Mention is a social search and analysis platform that aggregates content gather from across 100+ social media platforms.

Topsy is similar to Social Mention in allowing one to search for trends; however Topsy’s focus is primarily social media.

Some marketer’s use a combination of these tools based on their particular needs.

Here is more detail on the tools and along with some advice.

RESPOND

Numerous posts have been written giving advice on responding to difficult people and situations. Having a social presence creates expectations that someone is paying attention.

Neal Schaffer has excellent advice on monitoring and responding in the social media space.

It’s especially important to have a crisis plan in place before a crisis occurs. Here are 5 planning steps prepared by Heidi Cohen.

Tools:

Hootsuite  is a social media monitoring dashboard allowing a user to track terms in columns, and it provides a single view across the major social media platforms like Twitter, Linked In, Facebook and Google Plus.

Tweetdeck  is a social media dashboard tool that is similar to Hootsuite.

While these tools allow monitoring, they are very useful in responding to those in the social media space.

Those monitoring social media channels must have the tools and training to allow them to appropriately respond in a timely fashion.

COLLABORATE

Most organizations are designed by functional operations. While this is useful from an efficiency perspective, it can create silos when the interests of departments supersede those of customers. This is particularly important as the changing marketing landscape raises consumer expectations.

Consumers want to do business with humans; they expect human not corporate responses.

Following are tools designed to facilitate internal communication.

Tools:

SharePoint is a web application framework and platform developed by Microsoft. The basic framework integrates intranet, content management and document management; however, there are other features available.

Yammer is basically a secure Twitter-like platform for internal social communications.

Evernote Business  is a productivity tool designed to facilitate organizing and sharing information between teams and colleagues.

Hootsuite  is a social media dashboard that can be used in a team environment.

Tweetdeck  is a social media dashboard tool that is similar to Hootsuite.

LEARN

Learning should be one of the most important outcomes of fixing the gap. Think of all the data being collected from just about every area of the company.

Responding and solving problems is critical, but what about preventing those problems in the first place. Think of ways to harness this channel by asking questions like:

What do our customers like? What don’t they like?

What do our customers buy and use?

What do they return and why?

What are the product or service issues that need to be fixed?

I am sure you can think of other questions. What other tools and questions would you suggest? I would love to hear about them in the comments.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author:

Joe Ruiz

This monthly Social Customer Experience Marketing column is contributed by Joseph Ruiz. Joseph is President of Strategic Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing and consulting firm specializing in web-based integrated Relationship Marketing. Joseph thrives on the ever-changing nature of marketing in the digital age, embracing interactive opportunities, while applying three decades of hands-on expertise in online and traditional marketing. When he’s not helping business-makers navigate through complex marketing challenges, Joseph enjoys reading, working out and traveling just about anywhere…anywhere you can get a digital signal, that is. +Joseph Ruiz

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