Enterprise CFOs: here’s how to reduce customer service costs

It’s taken a while for enterprises to realize how best to use social media. Sales metrics, return on marketing investment and ROI don’t often synchronize well with the vocabulary of the early 2010’s social media expert, whose ‘share of voice’, ‘engagement’, and ‘nurturing advocacy’ make smoke come out of the ears of 90% of CFOs.

social media and customer service costs

Here is an example of where things can get weird. My good friend Media Czar (coincidentally also one of the greatest social media and marketing minds of his generation) sums it up nicely in his blog ‘The Magic Bean Lab’. Media Czar points out that most of the metrics and ideas used to describe the effectiveness of social media don’t mean anything. But there are two important measures that don’t often feature prominently enough in any enterprise social media conversation: reducing costs, and increasing sales.

I’m going to focus on reducing costs, because that’s what I know most about.

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And I am going to respond in part to two questions here:
1) Social media can help you understand what your customer wants, and understanding the customer can drive sales; how do you understand your customer while not spending large amounts on bespoke ‘voice of customer’ and analytics projects? (OK, I lied.  That’s really about driving sales, but I’ll concentrate on the cost reduction part).
2) How do you reduce customer service costs through customer community best practice?

In this post, I am going to focus on the first question. The answer is simple:  you use something called ‘Continuous Feedback’. Your customer community solution, or any initiative that you take in understanding ‘Voice of Customer’ needs to have a dynamic, analytic component that is plugged directly into the customer. And it needs to be ‘always on’.  Analyzing customer communities can get complicated, but there are a couple of ways in which customers can give you direct, easy-to-interpret feedback. One of the simplest is screen capture. Give your customers a tool that allows them to tell you precisely what they love and hate about your Web site. And make it as easy as possible to use.

A Screencap is worth a thousand words in customer service

Here is a great example: do you use Zendesk? Then you should be able to integrate screencap features without requiring your users to download or install client-side software.  They can simply mark-up the screen, add comments and annotations, and send feedback directly to you.

This serves two functions:
1) you get immediate and constant user feedback on design, process, usability, or anything else that crosses your customers’ minds.
2) It costs very little, and engages the user in a constructive way that conveys more information than could (cost effectively) be captured in a customer support call or email.

Here is an example from our own page on Zendesk integration:

Visual customer feedback can be collected immediately and analyzed quickly. Is the ‘sign-up’ link too obscure?  Does the ‘submit’ button break in IE? You’ll know at a glance. This way, you are able to achieve the benefits in customer service that developers have gained through Test Driven Development, and with tools like continuous integration: better services, developed with less headache.

In the following post, I’ll go into detail about how this same functionality can serve as a cornerstone for building customer communities, and using social-media focused approaches simultaneously to improve customer service, and lower costs.

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