Webcare in 2017: Focus on social CRM, personal contact and bots

Last year  we reviewed the trends of 2016 for customer care. Even this year we see a number of trends that shall change the customer contact the coming year. What are the trends and challenges for the coming year in the field of excellent web care? In this blog, experts from BCCRAI Amsterdam and our partners Red Carpet and  Socialemediaburo.be share their vision on the future of webcare.  

Know who you are speaking to, focus on CRM.

Greatly mapping out who our target group exactly is and with what motives they are in touch with us is and stays a focus point for web care teams. The use of Social CRM can thereby create added value. Vianne Scharloo,  Managing Director of Red Carpet, relates: ‘’We make active use of Social CRM. For our customers, we wag everyone who we are in touch with through social media or messaging channels. Therefore, we exactly know who we are speaking with. If after a few contact moments it has not become naturally more clear what one’s reason is to recurrently connect, we ask if we can get in touch with personal contact by phone. In this way, people feel better heard.”

An organization that shall put in on social media the upcoming year as the source for analytical client image is RAI Amsterdam. Vanessa Visser,  Manager Marketing Services narrates: ‘’We want to connect the data from social media to the data we have in our own database. In this matter, we have much information about who our target group is and then we can fine-tune our service to that. We are building a community and notice that this has a positive effect on our target group. By that, we react for instance also proactively to people who come to our fairs and see that most often this carries the possibility of us engaging in a personal dialogue with these people.”

Sander Kouwenhoven, Manager Customer Service from BCC, sees this focus as well: ‘’Last year the focus was on reactionary times and service levels. Nowadays we notice that the reaction time is not leading. It is of utmost importance to directly have a clear picture of who the client exactly is and what the motives are in seeking contact. Immediately giving the right response is more important than giving an answer fast. ‘’

With the knowledge of who we have in front of us and the right context of the conversation, we can make our contact more personal. That humanity is of importance in communication transpires also from the social service research social service research by Lotte Willemsen.

Further development of client contact channels

For some time, the shift of contact through public channels to contact by closed channels has been remarkable. In 2016 we see an increase of the business-like input from WhatsApp, but this year the eyes of many organizations are directed onto the developments of Facebook Messenger.

Sander Kouwenhoven from BCC shares: ‘’I expect that we as organizations shall make more active use of Facebook Messenger, in combination with WhatsApp. There where we previously were in fear of, a wild growth of channels, has now appeared that platforms as Facebook (Messenger) and WhatsApp form a stable base in the Netherlands.”

The question that a lot of organizations ask themselves: do we really have to be present at any place the client is? No. But the choice of the channels is dependent on more factors, such as your target group and the moment of starting up contact in the buying process. Choosing your channels wisely and directing the customer to choose the right channel for the question is something many organizations are at the time occupied with.

For RAI Amsterdam the presence on all channels is very important, namely through serving a very broad target group. ‘’With all of our fairs and events, our target group is very broad. There are increasingly more channels added and also see that the channels vary with every event or fair. We try to move ahead with our target group and are open to new channels.”, thus Vanessa.

Broader use of bots

The use of bots within client contact is in rapids. Bots are going to make it easier in the coming times to take over the start-up contact on the frontline. Organizations currently make a start with the use of bots within client contact. The expectation is that increasingly more organizations shall test out the input of bots for front line customer contact. ‘‘Within client contact, we often see that people get in contact earlier, then that they go on a search themselves to find the answer to their question. They ask many questions that are easily obviated by a bot. Thereby you save time within web care for content-related questions that remain.’’, according to Nadja Desmet from socialemediaburo.be.

Also, Vanessa sees opportunities: ‘‘I believe in bots, especially for operational questions. With us, it is about, for example, questions from exhibitors or visitors. Where we see that we can especially create a dialogue through web care, is this with operational questions less of the case. We live in the meantime in a time where it is not surprising to be in contact with a bot, as long as we receive an answer to our question.’’

A next step that can be taken might be the input of chat box for formulating answers, on the basis of a database of questions. After a human check of the pre-formulated answer, the answer then will be sent to the customer. The footnote that is made by experts is that the human factor in communication remains important. ‘’You are not communicating with a brand, but rather with the people behind the brand’’, states Vianne.

Webcare optimization within an organization

For the organizations that start with web care, we still see a tussle with where web care can be put in inside an organization. There is often a rather too large space between the departments of communication and the traditional customer service. ‘’We often see that the same questions through social media are asked as to when people call up or e-mail organizations. It is of importance to build a bridge between the traditional call center and the department where web care is invested in for a clear answer to give to the same question. Also, web care can deliver interesting input for the communication department, as they know like no other what is going on with the client’’, thus Nadja.

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