Five Strategies for Better Digital Member Service

Social media is becoming increasingly important for member service, but it highlights the many channels customers use for help. Here are some insights to consider within your organization.

If your organization is attuned to a more hands-on customer service strategy, it can be a weird feeling to have to field a response in a Twitter comment or a comment thread on a blog post.

But those needs are out there—as well as the need maintain your old lines of customer service communication too. A series of recent coverage and reports suggests that in the modern age, you need to be thinking about both digital and traditional customer service methods.

Some recent insights on the matter worth heeding:

You can’t take your time with social media. A recent Forbes piece notes research from a variety of sources stating that most respondents expect a speedy response from social media outlets when they send a message—and that failure to do so can hurt  an organization’s reputation. Michael Ringman, the CIO of TELUS International, noted in the piece that it means that you need to have a response strategy for all hours of the day. “Customers expect support at all hours, and sometimes that means at 2 a.m. ‘Always on’ means 24/7 customer service support,” Ringman said. “Having a trusted partner in your corner with a follow-the-sun support model to help monitor these channels can provide this level of care.”

If you’re relatively small, don’t separate social media service from your main account. In a blog post about customer engagement strategies for social media, Search Engine Journal contributor Anna Bredava notes that you might be inspired to forward customer service requests to a dedicated account, something that major companies like Comcast or T-Mobile do. But for smaller organizations, it may cost them brand awareness opportunities, she says. “Unless you’re constantly getting an influx of queries from customers on social media, I don’t recommend setting up separate profiles for customer care,” she writes. “Multiple profiles can be confusing to customers; besides, using your main profile to engage with customers helps raise brand awareness.”

Customer engagement roles are becoming more diverse. According to a recent report from Salesforce, customer service is becoming a cross-discipline endeavor, which requires more strategic skills—something 71 percent of customer service agents said was a growing part of their job in recent years. The result is that the customer service staffers have more room for upward mobility than in the past, making it a more desirable long-term role. Embracing this across an organization could help make social media a true asset.

Don’t disregard more traditional routes, however. According to a recent study by the cloud communications firm Serenova, more traditional complaint routes, such as email or phone, remain very popular. But, as with social media, immediacy still remains the name of the game with these routes, with most consumers expecting a relatively quick response. “If brands can’t improve the customer experience, they face a serious uphill battle to keep those customers and acquire necessary new ones,” Serenova said, according to Email Marketing Daily.

Your organization should cover every base, because your members cover every base. Tying to the prior point, your organization shouldn’t be afraid to leave any stone unturned when it comes to customer service channels. According to Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey [PDF], some generational groups tend to prefer one method of communication over another. For example, every generational group will use the phone for customer service concerns, but boomers are more likely to; millennials are significantly more likely to use social media than other generations; and Gen X tends to use a variety of methods to reach out for help. This speaks to an increased use of channels, according to the report. “This puts the onus on companies to ensure not only that they provide access to these channels, but maintain a high standard of service across the spectrum as well,” the Gladly report said.

(FoxysGraphic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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