February 21st, 2013 Social Media Week's Changing the Expectations of Customer Service

On Thursday, February 21, 2013, OLC attended Social Media Week's Changing the Expectations of Customer Service held at AOL HQ. The panel: Erin Robinson, Social Media Manager of AOL; Laurie Meachem, Manager Customer Commitment of JetBlue Airways; Jen Rubio, Head of Social Media at Warby Parker; Scott Gulbransen, Director of Social Business Strategy at H&R Block; and Richard Guest, President of Tribal DDB; were asked questions exploring how marketers can take advantage of changes in society and technologies to bring customer service that promotes brand value by moderator Christopher Heine, Staff Writer at AdWeek.

Christopher Heine mused if the telephone was dead when it comes to customer service. The panelists didn't think the telephone was dead. "That's not necessarily true," Scott Gulbransen said. "When it comes to complex issues, there needs to be some form of communication outside of social."

"You can't solve personal issues on social, so it's [telephone] is a channel to get people to the right spot," Erin Robinson said.

The conversation moved to their customer service experiences.

"Customer service has been positive especially since we've done it more than 10 points in terms of digital positive engagement," Jen Rubio said. "It gets a little tough to measure the spikes and the volume because Warby Parker is growing rapidly."

"We believe in single content resolution," Laurie Meachem said. "During Hurricane Sandy, we had a lot of volume in customer service. The benefit of Twitter is that we were able to take six requests at once while agents were taking one request at a time."

"We had an incident where we had an issue with the vendor," Gulbransen said. "In one day, we had about 10,000 requests per hour. We were proactive in what we were doing—we used this event to be our theme and gave customers the answers they needed."

"In terms of volume, we were getting over 6,000 Tweets a week. It's a little more than just problem-related Tweets. It's also new comments—the question became, 'How are we going to scale this?'" Rubio said. Robinson chimed in, "The best way to let people know what's going on is to use alerts," she said. "Most people want to be respondent to acknowledge the issue."

Heine asked Rubio about how she selected her team. "Everyone on my team has been promoted from the customer service team. It's really important to me to hire people who have a good idea of the brand voice and a good grasp of social media," she said. Meachem added, "Our volume wasn't as much—our team helped customers respond to requests and facilitate their needs. To me, our team had to be cross-functional and selecting the team was an intense process because I needed to know that they are brand advocates."

"Our Facebook isn't a customer service tool," Gulbransen said. "You need to send customers where they need to go. One of the customer service agent's role is to be speedy and direct customers to the right channel."

Heine asked if turning social into a marketing tool is a good idea. "It's much more about what the customers know and where to go," Gulbransen answered. "We're content creators and we're making sure people have the right channel to communicate. We use social for marketing and to do that, I think people need to be informed in certain channels, because otherwise, they wouldn't be able to track it if it went beyond. I think CRM [Customer Relationship Management] tools with social integration is good."

The conversation quickly went back to address the brand voice that was briefly mentioned by Jen Rubio and Laure Meachem.

"The voice should always be the same," Richard Guest said. "Customer interaction defines the brand, and so the brand voice has to be the same in all facets."

"You need to love you brand," Robinson said. "You need to have a personal voice and customers love it when they realize that they have been heard."

"We started making YouTube videos for people with questions and people love it," Rubio said. "They don't expect it at all. It's a great way to put a face on the Warby Parker Twitter. As we build our brand, we've begun to use more social media channels like Foursquare to interact with customers and build up and reinforce relationships with them."