Six Steps for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Support

Developing a social media strategy for Support does not mean that the organization will have to commit significant resources. Social media strategies can begin with a very passive approach, such as monitoring communities and learning from customer discussions. The key is to develop a strategy that makes sense based on well-defined business goals and realistic resource constraints. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

Six Steps for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Support

Here are six steps to consider for getting started with a social media strategy for Support

1.    Identify Communities of Interest

The social media universe is extensive and most of it does not matter to your business. Identify the sites and communities where current or prospective customers are talking about your products and services. (e.g. A professional community that is highly likely to use your product, or product user group.)

2.    Listen and Learn

Before investing in technology, increasing headcount, or making changes to the way you do business, monitor discussions within targeted communities of interest. Listen to the topics being discussed.

3.    Problem / Opportunity Statement

Formulate a plan about how you can participate in targeted communities to benefit both members and your business. Establish the problem or opportunity statement.  Be prepared to articulate a compelling reason to embrace social media and to justify the time or resources required.

4.    Establish Goals

Once you have established the opportunity, define goals to describe the impact you want to have. Goals may be as simple as increasing your understanding of what customers think of the company’s products or learning what product related issues cause customers the most difficulty.

5.    Define Metrics / Measure Impact

Define the metrics you will use to measure the impact of your social media efforts.  Align your metrics with stated goals.

6.    Coordinate with Corporate

Many companies are developing social media strategies. These may be corporate-wide initiatives or driven by one or more departments. Be aware of and contribute to the development of a corporate-wide social media strategy, but don’t let it diminish the need to achieve strategic service goals, nor delay efforts to incorporate social media into existing support processes now.

Featured: Social Media - Implications and Opportunities for Service and Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products.  If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.  This perspective describes the reasons why business, and particularly service and Support organizations, must embrace a social media strategy.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

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Six Steps for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Support

Developing a social media strategy for Support does not mean that the organization will have to commit significant resources. Social media strategies can begin with a very passive approach, such as monitoring communities and learning from customer discussions. The key is to develop a strategy that makes sense based on well-defined business goals and realistic resource constraints. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

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The Benefits of Social Media for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

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Top 11 Social Metrics for Support

Social media strategies introduce non-conventional opportunities to deliver Support. Instead of providing direct assisted services or self-help content, Support creates an environment for others within the community to provide the expertise to help other customers. As Support develops social channels it must consider how to measure the impact of these strategies relative to their pursuit of technical support excellence.

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Top 10 Social Practices for Support

Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

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Where Customers Look for Support Information

More than two-thirds of customers indicate that they attempt to help themselves when they need technical assistance. A general web search (e.g. Google or Bing) is the most likely first action customers take when attempting to resolve technical support issues on their own. In general customers find good information and are reasonably satisfied with their results.  This ServiceXRG study examines the expectations and perceptions of 588 individuals that use self-help resources to resolve technical support issues.

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Why Can’t You Close More Cases at First Contact?

Understanding why cases cannot be resolved at first contact is critical to formulating a plan to improve First Contact Resolution rates.

First Contact Resolution (FCR) provides insights to indicate how efficiently Support can get each customer question to a person that has the skills, knowledge and tools to provide the right answer the first time the customer engages with Support. 

Not all cases can be resolved at first contact as suggested by the industry average First Contact Resolution rate which is slightly more than half of cases handled (53.7%).   For certain product types and segments within the technology services industry such as high complexity enterprise products, the average FCR performance will be far less than industry average levels.

New to FCR?  Check out First Contact Resolution (FCR) Defined

The table below highlights some of the primary inhibitors of FCR performance.

FCR Inhibitors

Impact on First Contact Resolution

Product Maturity

New products and releases often have more “unknown” issues which may require more time and effort to research suitable answers. 

Product Quality

Products prone to defects that can only be resolved by product fixes and enhancements require involvement of engineering resources.

Product Capabilities

Robust products that can do many things may increase the complexity of a case requiring more time, expertise and research to figure out how to help the customer.

Staff Skills

Staff that lack the knowledge or experience to diagnose and resolve customer issues may require research and collaboration with experts to develop an answer.

Advanced Customers

Customers with advanced product knowledge can ask challenging questions that cannot be resolved at first contact and require additional research.  Advanced customers are also likely to identify and report product defects.

Novice Customers

Customers with limited knowledge about a product or the environment in which it operates can inhibit in-depth troubleshooting and diagnostics.

Communication Skills

Customers may lack the skills or expertise to use the product or may not be able to express their needs in terms that can be acted upon by Support.

Knowledge / Tool Access

Lack of access to the knowledge and expertise of others within Support may inhibit the ability to resolve a customer issue.

Circumstances

In some situation the process of diagnosing or repairing a customer issue will involve an activity that cannot be performed at the time of the initial customer interaction (e.g. cannot take down or restart a server).

Once you understand the inhibitors to achieving a higher First Contact Resolution Rate you can formulate an action plan to improve performance.  The first step in this process is to determine if FCR optimization is cost effective.  Make certain that the investments necessary to improve FCR performance will yield a sufficient return.  Need help or have questions?  Give me a call.

Support Metrics, Benchmarks and Reporting

Support performance measurement is challenging. Contact me to learn how ServiceXRG can help you gain better insights into Support performance through the use of enhanced metrics, benchmarking and better support performance reporting.

  • Are you measuring the right support metrics?
  • Do you have access to necessary inputs and insights?
  • How well is your Support organization performing?
  • Can you generate the reports you need?

Contact us now to learn how we can help you gain greater insights and optimize Support performance.

Chat with us (see link on right side of screen), send an e-mail to tsweeny@servicexrg.com, or use our contact form.

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Six Steps for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Support

Developing a social media strategy for Support does not mean that the organization will have to commit significant resources. Social media strategies can begin with a very passive approach, such as monitoring communities and learning from customer discussions. The key is to develop a strategy that makes sense based on well-defined business goals and realistic resource constraints. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

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This article introduces the top inhibitors to closing case at first contact.

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Beyond Service Metrics – Focus on What Really Matters

If you are an executive at an information technology company you have a lot to think about on a day to day basis, but there are 5 more things that you need to be aware of.
Your service organization is an incredible source of metrics and measurements that describe ongoing interactions with your customers. They can tell you about the top concerns of your customers, the challenges they face using your products and the features they want to see in the future.

Service interactions with customers offer a wealth of insights into how to sustain and grow customer relationship value and create opportunities to differentiate your products. Of all the metrics your service team tracks there are 5 important areas that you should key a close eye on.

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First Contact Resolution (FCR) Benchmarks

The industry average first contact resolution rate is 53.7%, an interesting yet meaningless number for determining what your FCR performance level should be. This article provides industry average FCR rates organized by common product characteristics including: The type of product; product complexity; type of customer supported, product price level; and the quality of the product as measured by defect rates. Leverage these benchmarks as a guideline to establish your optimal FCR performance level.

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Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

If you inventory all the metrics used by your customer-facing organizations – Sales, Marketing and Service – you will find an impressive collection of data elements that describe how you interact with your customers. Marketing metrics describe the ability to reach and influence customers; Sales metrics provide insights into the time and efficiency to book revenue; and Service metrics describe the volume, timeliness, and effectiveness of interacting with them. Add to this, insights provided from customer satisfaction assessment efforts. As an industry we have a lot of customer data, but does it tell us everything we need to know about how to engage and sustain long term profitable relationships?

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First Contact Resolution (FCR) Defined

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a common metric used throughout the technology services and broader customer services industries. While widely used the underlying inputs and assumptions that makeup FCR vary widely. A consistent definition of FCR is essential to identify opportunities to improve customer satisfaction with case management activities and to increase support efficiency and effectiveness. This article provides a consistent and comprehensive definition and approach for measuring First Contact Resolution.

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Beyond Service Metrics – Focus on What Really Matters

Your service organization is an incredible source of metrics and measurements that describe ongoing interactions with your customers. Of all the metrics your service team tracks there are 5 important areas that you should key a close eye on.

Your service organization can tell you how many customers they interact with on a daily, week or monthly basis through a variety of communications channels. They can tell you about the top concerns of your customers, the challenges they face using your products and the features they want to see in the future.  If you dig a bit deeper Services can provide statistics on the level of service provided, and the costs and revenues associated with delivering these services. 

1.   Defects

Customers contact your Services team for a variety of reasons, and if typical, more than half of all customer service requests are related to “how-to” type questions.  These are “good” interactions – your customers are engaged with your product and this provides insights into how they are using it.

Few customers (hopefully) are contacting you because your product does not work as expected.  Defect related interactions are not always pleasant but are inevitable. Tracking defect rates is critical since they are often costlier to respond to and result in higher levels of customer dissatisfaction.  What you need to know about defects:

  • What percent of all customer reported issues are directly attributed to product defects?
  • What is the total cost to handle defect related issues (total and as a percent of total service costs)?
  • How do defect related issues affect customer satisfaction?

Dis-proportionally high defect rates can indicate a failure in process or lack of appropriate resources in Development and Quality organizations.  By understanding the cost and customer impact you can act to mitigate negative impacts from defects.

2.   Customer Health

You may receive periodic reports indicating customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores (NPS).  These are good indicators, but with so many touch-points with your customers expect to know how healthy your customer relationships are. 

Don’t make assumptions that NPS or satisfaction ratings indicate the health of a customer relationship.  Expect to understand if customers are generally content, or if they are anxious about the future, restless and thinking about moving to another vendor, or just plain angry with you. What you need to know about customer health:

  • What percent of your customer base is at risk of defecting to another vendor?
  • What percent of customers are at risk and likely to reduce spending or discontinue buying future products and services?
  • How much revenue is at risk?

Nurture healthy relationships but pay special attention to at risk customers and attempt to understand and repair relationships.

3.   Service Sales Performance

Selling a perpetual or SaaS license is the just the beginning of long-term profitable relationship when additional services can be attached to the initial license sale. Look at the financials of larger public software companies and you can see how important support and maintenance contracts are.  If you don’t already sell add-on services, consider it.  If you do, make sure that service sales performance is optimized.  If your products are offered as a service, then look to add-on services to grow. What you need to know about service sales performance:

  • How many customers are under an extended service contract or success plan?
  • At what rate are new contracts attached to product sales?
  • How does this differ by geography and channel?
  • At what rate do existing customers renew?
  • For SaaS companies – what rate do customers buy a higher level of service than what is provided with the subscription?

Service sales performance begins with the initial “attachment” of a service contract, but the sales process continues indefinitely with an opportunity to renew the relationship year after year.  Great service sales practices require focus and investment to sell, renew and expand the service relationship.

4.   Engagement

Your services team specializes in engaging with customers – in fact this is their job.  The frequency and quality of engagements is important.  If you never hear from your customers is that a good thing?  It certainly costs less but you have less visibility into how they are using your products or their level of satisfaction.  Too much engagement may suggest that your products are difficult to use.  What you need to know about customer engagement:

  • What percent of your customer base do you actively engage with?
  • How often do you engage with them?
  • What percent of customer engagements are positive? Negative?
  • How does the health of customer relationships correlate to engagement frequency and quality?

The correct engagement model can make the difference in the health and profitability of a customer relationship.  Engagement focused on early and effective onboarding and success coaching can help customers get up to speed and productive with new products.  High-touch engagement models may be necessary for large critical customers.  In all cases the type and level of engagement is hopefully proportional to the value of the relationship.

5.   Profitability

When we consider the role of Service, we need to think about it as an instrument to engage and retain customers.  The basic assumption is that more interaction may be good, especially if it is positive interaction, but if it costs too much it is difficult and costly to scale.  We cannot simply throw unlimited resources at customers to keep them delighted.   What you need to know about customer service profitability:

  • How much does it cost to deliver services?
  • How much direct revenue does Services generate?
  • How much indirect revenue does Services contribute to?
  • Will incremental investments in Services generate more direct or indirect revenue?
  • What impact will investments in Services have on retaining recurring revenue streams?

Service profitability, and the impact of services on overall profit can be elusive, often because the tangible return from the investment in services can be hard to connect to the costs.  For service organization that operate as a profit and loss center the relationship between the cost of services and the benefits is more apparent.  Accounting for the cost and financial benefits of service is critical.

These service insights are different from traditional service metrics such as cost per incident or time to resolution and are intended to provide a more strategic customer view through the eyes of your Services team.  Tap into the insights and perspectives services has to offer.  Services is on the front line with customers and they can offer unique insights about your customers, your relationships and the very health and success of your business moving forward.

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*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

Beyond Service Metrics – Focus on What Really Matters

If you are an executive at an information technology company you have a lot to think about on a day to day basis, but there are 5 more things that you need to be aware of.
Your service organization is an incredible source of metrics and measurements that describe ongoing interactions with your customers. They can tell you about the top concerns of your customers, the challenges they face using your products and the features they want to see in the future.

Service interactions with customers offer a wealth of insights into how to sustain and grow customer relationship value and create opportunities to differentiate your products. Of all the metrics your service team tracks there are 5 important areas that you should key a close eye on.

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Recurring Revenue Rate

The amount of recurring revenue a company receives may increase, stay the same, or decline for a given period. Recurring Revenue Rate indicates the percent change in the amount of recurring revenue at the end of a specified period compared to the recurring revenue at the beginning of the same period. Measuring recurring revenue rate is essential to help identify the factors that lead to revenue retention and attrition and provides an indicator of the overall state of customer relationship health.

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Service Renewal Metrics: Definitions and Benchmarks

Service renewal metrics indicate the level of performance for sustaining service relationships and retaining recurring revenue. Tracking both service contract renewal and recurring revenue retention is essential to help identify the factors that lead to customer and revenue retention and attrition and provide important indicators about the overall state of customer relationship health.

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Service Revenue Generation Metrics

The ability to accurately track the effectiveness of Service Revenue Generation activities is essential to maximizing revenue from new and existing customers. There are three primary opportunities to capture service revenue including the sale of new contracts at the time of the initial product sale (Attach); renewal of existing service contracts (Renew); and as reinstatements (Win Back) of contracts that have been previously cancelled by customers. This article presents a consistent set of metrics and definitions to help companies measure the overall of service sales and renewal policies, programs and personnel.

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First Contact Resolution (FCR) Benchmarks

The industry average first contact resolution rate is 53.7%, an interesting yet meaningless number for determining what your FCR performance level should be.

First contact closure is influenced by so many factors that an industry-wide average does not provide a sufficiently accurate benchmark from which to determine what your FCR performance level should be.  Benchmarks at best suggest the “vicinity” for your performance.

The chart below provides industry average FCR rates organized by common product characteristics including: The type of product; product complexity; type of customer supported, product price level; and the quality of the product as measured by defect rates.

Want to learn more?  Download the First Contact Resolution playbook.

Featured: First Contact Resolution

The First Contact Resolution playbook provides a step-by-step guide for defining and implementing a First Contact Resolution (FCR) metric.   The playbook defines a consistent and effective process to measure how efficiently each customer question gets to the person that has the skills, knowledge and tools to provide the right answer the first time the customer engages with Support.  The playbook offers practical guidance about how to measure and optimize FCR performance to improve customer satisfaction, NPS and increase overall support efficiency and effectiveness.

Login or register to get your copy.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

Login

*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

Related Articles

Six Steps for Developing a Social Media Strategy for Support

Developing a social media strategy for Support does not mean that the organization will have to commit significant resources. Social media strategies can begin with a very passive approach, such as monitoring communities and learning from customer discussions. The key is to develop a strategy that makes sense based on well-defined business goals and realistic resource constraints. It’s better to start small than not start at all.

read more

Why Can’t You Close More Cases at First Contact?

What percent of cases can your Support team close at first contact? The industry average rate across all customer segments and product types is 53.7%. Some support groups close cases at higher rates while other groups close cases at first contact at far lower rates. The question every support team should be asking is “Can we close more cases at first contact? If not, why?”

This article introduces the top inhibitors to closing case at first contact.

read more

Beyond Service Metrics – Focus on What Really Matters

If you are an executive at an information technology company you have a lot to think about on a day to day basis, but there are 5 more things that you need to be aware of.
Your service organization is an incredible source of metrics and measurements that describe ongoing interactions with your customers. They can tell you about the top concerns of your customers, the challenges they face using your products and the features they want to see in the future.

Service interactions with customers offer a wealth of insights into how to sustain and grow customer relationship value and create opportunities to differentiate your products. Of all the metrics your service team tracks there are 5 important areas that you should key a close eye on.

read more

First Contact Resolution (FCR) Benchmarks

The industry average first contact resolution rate is 53.7%, an interesting yet meaningless number for determining what your FCR performance level should be. This article provides industry average FCR rates organized by common product characteristics including: The type of product; product complexity; type of customer supported, product price level; and the quality of the product as measured by defect rates. Leverage these benchmarks as a guideline to establish your optimal FCR performance level.

read more

Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

If you inventory all the metrics used by your customer-facing organizations – Sales, Marketing and Service – you will find an impressive collection of data elements that describe how you interact with your customers. Marketing metrics describe the ability to reach and influence customers; Sales metrics provide insights into the time and efficiency to book revenue; and Service metrics describe the volume, timeliness, and effectiveness of interacting with them. Add to this, insights provided from customer satisfaction assessment efforts. As an industry we have a lot of customer data, but does it tell us everything we need to know about how to engage and sustain long term profitable relationships?

read more

First Contact Resolution (FCR) Defined

First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a common metric used throughout the technology services and broader customer services industries. While widely used the underlying inputs and assumptions that makeup FCR vary widely. A consistent definition of FCR is essential to identify opportunities to improve customer satisfaction with case management activities and to increase support efficiency and effectiveness. This article provides a consistent and comprehensive definition and approach for measuring First Contact Resolution.

read more

Knowledge Management – Defining the Business Need

Successful knowledge management is not achieved by chance, rather it is a function of understanding the scope of the required effort, establishing a clear vision of the expected benefits, and securing the support and resources necessary to execute.

Defining the Business Need

The formulation of a successful knowledge management strategy is based on providing answers to five fundamental questions:

  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What benefits can we expect?
  • How will we measure progress against our goals?
  • What level of support is required from the organization?
  • What is the cost to execute this initiative?

Although it may not be possible to answer these questions conclusively, it is essential to invest sufficient effort towards a reasonable response to each question.  Further, there must be organizational acceptance.  Failure to articulate answers to the fundamental questions may result in unrealistic expectations or lack of executive support to achieve project objectives.

Providing answers to these questions is not only required at the inception of a knowledge management initiative but must be an ongoing activity as the project evolves and matures.

Featured: Measuring the Return on Knowledge Management

As knowledge management mature, it is essential to conduct a formal cost – benefit analysis to determine the proper level of investment. Continued success will come from efforts to enhance content creation processes, employ enhanced technologies and deliver tangible business value by leveraging knowledge assets. This research report introduces an approach to measure the return from knowledge management initiatives.

Login or register to get your copy.

Login to Access the Full Report

If you don’t have an account, create a free* membership.

Login

*Membership level determines your access to ServiceXRG research and other member services. Paid memberships include access to research and playbooks. Free memberships include access to some reports and discounts to others. Please visit our membership page for a list of available membership programs.

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Knowledge Management – Defining the Business Need

Successful knowledge management is not achieved by chance, rather it is a function of understanding the scope of the required effort, establishing a clear vision of the expected benefits, and securing the support and resources necessary to execute. The formulation of a successful knowledge management strategy is based on providing answers to five fundamental questions.

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Beyond Deflection – What to Do with Your “Savings”

Self-help and service automation (e.g. chatbots) provide a means to save money and lower the overall costs of service delivery.  Consider however that savings from deflection represents an opportunity to reinvest to improve service outcomes by reallocating staff to high value activities (e.g. onboarding, adoption, retention, expansion, etc.).  This article introduces the top opportunities to reinvest in service.

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