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Published July 26th 2016

Monster.com, Conversocial and Turbine Labs on The Voice of the Customer

In this candid panel, learn how social allows Monster.com, Conversocial and Turbine Labs to listen to, understand, and react to their customers

If your customers have a problem, they’ll pick up the phone.

But they won’t call. They’ll email. Tweet. Web-chat. Send a lengthy Facebook post.

Your customers simply do not want to have a chat about their issues, they want to type them out. More and more customers only wish to speak on the phone as a last resort – research by Dimension Data told that “Customers younger than 40 would much rather use social media and web chat than any other way of achieving their desired service outcomes.”

So where does this leave you?

Retro Electric Locomotive Phone

We recently hosted an expert panel on the subject of customers; threading together three crucial areas of business value and practice, social customer care, voice of the customer insights and CX, Patrick Gillooly of Monster.com, Paul Johns of Conversocial, and Leigh Fatzinger of Turbine Labs spent half an hour sharing their knowledge, skills and best practice.

First, a little background on our expert panelists.

Patrick directs social media marketing as well as the customer care efforts at Monster.com, one of the largest and most visited employment websites in the world.

Paul Johns, CMO at social customer service software provider Conversocial, has experience helping brands such as Volkswagen, Google, and Hyatt ‘be human at scale over social’.

Finally, Leigh Fatzinger founded Turbine Labs in 2013, and has built the agency into a favorite for brands needing rapid, actionable insights. He’s an expert on the subject of providing an unbiased view of consumer preference, market trends and competitive intelligence.

Now, let’s get into the conversation.

Q: So, is social really giving customers a voice?

LEIGH: Absolutely. We look at social interaction like a comment card.

It’s the opportunity for the consumer to say exactly what they think. They’re not put into a position of having a survey in front of them or the discomfort of interacting with somebody that’s across from them in a person-to-person situation. So in some cases, you see it is the only pure response that you’re getting back from a consumer to the brand, or from the media to a brand. 

PATRICK: That’s how we view it at Monster.com. We’re really attuned to the fact that people have referenced social as the greatest focus group we’ve ever had.

On customer care, obviously, we want to make everybody into a brand advocate. We want to take anybody who has a negative experience with our product, employer or job seeker, and we want to make that into a positive experience. But at the same time, we’re always looking to make sure that we’re taking that feedback and we’re doing something with it outside of just solving that individual’s problem, right?

Are there larger scale issues that we should be tackling? Are there insights that should drive how we build a new product as we go forward? So it’s the voice of a customer, both in terms of how we can better serve them in the future as well as right now.

Q: What are the current problems that you’re dealing with on social?

PATRICK: We have two audiences. We have job seekers, and we have employers. We’ve got the typical SAAS questions from our employer audience about how to post a job or having an issue posting a job.

It’s not always issues – we talk about customer care a lot, and saying like it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. Sometimes it’s something that can be optimized or be made better by helping them out and providing additional skills or additional advice in the process. For job seekers, it’s the same kind of stuff. I think anybody who’s ever gone through a job search recently realizes that the process is really muddy, and that’s true of everybody, not just of Monster.

Glass transparent ball on dark green background and wooden surface

It’s largely because there are so many applicants, so seekers aren’t necessarily just looking for us to answer a problem that they feel is individual to them, but they’re looking for greater clarity into this very nebulous process.

Five, six, seven years ago people didn’t really have social as an outlet. It was the picking up the phone, or it was going into a store, and now they have this avenue that maybe no-one even asked them for, nobody even set up. It just started happening.

Social is a very pervasive signal that is loud and amplified, as we know. We live out loud, and now all of those other channels that we designed and delivered don’t really give customers the experience that they are looking for.

I think we had too much apathy for too long and so social has given customers a voice. But it’s actually given you an opportunity to have a new conversation with customers that you probably haven’t had for the last five years.

LEIGH: It’s become less ‘creepy’ for a brand to involve themselves in service before a service issue happens. So Monster, to my understanding, looks for people that are complaining ‘I hate my job.’

With these tools and these platforms you can now go and look for that and then inject yourself into the conversation, and that’s proactive service. The consumer doesn’t say, ‘Oh, that’s really weird.’ In fact, they’re saying, ‘Oh, that’s really nice, someone is listening to me. I hate my job, and someone’s listening to me.’

PATRICK: I always guestimate that it was 2012 where it stopped being totally creepy. And that was like a moment that everything opened up.

PAUL: Take Audi. They used to have five connections with a customer when they were buying a car. Now they have maybe 21, 22. Because the other thing that social gives you is the opportunity to get into the journey much earlier.

So ‘Oh, we’re having a child,’ or ‘I’m changing my job.’ These triggers, these moments in life become new opportunities to hook in and start a conversation before I’m walking into a showroom. So, the other thing that social gives you, as you think about being proactive, is the opportunity to have a much longer journey with those customers.

Hyatt, one of our customers, does a great job of that. ‘I’m at the NYK Conference in Chicago.’ Well, you know what? That sends a trigger. ‘Oh, you’re in Chicago? Have you tried out the Hyatt Hotel here?’

Social isn’t just about in-the-moment. It’s also about those moments ahead of an actual experience.

Q: So, how do you deal with being proactive?

PATRICK: It takes a lot of training. There are a lot of opportunities. We spend about 75% of our time, on average, doing those proactive or engagement-based activities.

One of the big challenges is making sure that there’s a singular voice, a singular tone that is coming from that message.

So while humanity is key number one, number two is just to make sure that if two people have the same challenge, that they don’t have different response experiences.

LEIGH: I think automation takes you 70, 80% of the way there. But I think there’s greater opportunity for human involvement now that is enabled by these platforms rather than expecting that the platform is going to automate these activities for you. I think the brands who think they’re on their way to automation are on their way to losing their customers.

PAUL: 22% of contacts into a contact center are password resets. You don’t need people to do that. But here’s the thing. The personality of a brand is the big differentiator now, because if you’ve all got the same technology, there’s product parity, there are low margins. You can spend all the above the line advertising you want, but you have to create this porous idea that you’re putting forward the personality and the culture of the business, right?

My urge to everyone is to figure out how to automate the 70% that you can automate. But for goodness sake, make sure the other 30% you have unscripted, empowered agents that really care about building advocacy, and figure out how to get your management team to buy into the return on influence. I think it’s critical.

PATRICK: Yes. Add to that, too. You’ve got to take the leash off, right? So the people that you put in front of that, and we’ve talked a lot about community managers and the job description that’s related to people who are in this business, and the reality is they’ve always had to wear a lot of hats.

And for a long time, that was just because we were first adopters. But now it’s because we have to actually be able to talk for every aspect of the business. A lot of the customer service that my team deals with doesn’t actually ever get to the customer service team because we know how to resolve it ourselves. That’s a big opportunity, I think.

My team loves a good gif, and I love that about what they do. They bring their own little slice of humanizing the Monster brand in a service response. Add a little humor to it. Have a little fun.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 10.53.26

Q: It’s still got to be consistent, though – you still need to make sure that there’s some sort of guideline – how do you do that practically?

PATRICK: For anybody who’s hired in this business, you realize that the first thing that you’re looking for is the ability to have trust.

That somebody has got to be a decision maker who will never push the button first. They’ll push the button third or fourth or fifth or sixth time. They’ll take a lot of time to really let it soak in and understand, is this something I’d know the answer to? If it isn’t, do I know the person who knows the answer? And if we don’t have either of that, how do we continue to elevate it up quickly?

PAUL: We did a survey and we looked at the five key attributes of the modern agent. I will tell you the three that really kind of stuck out for me.

Product knowledge is kind of where you thought it should be because you’re right, you do need to be able to satisfy the issue.

But the other two that really stuck out for me were empathy, number one, and compassion was number two. Fundamentally, you’re now hiring for compassion and empathy and emotional connection and personality. These may sound trite.

These may sound like soft and cuddly ideas that run contrary to ROI, but I promise you they don’t, and your customers are looking for it.

Q: How do we prove that we’re getting a real return on this? How do we show that it’s valuable?

PAUL: Since the rise of Facebook Messenger and the 10,000 character limit increase on Twitter DMs, we have seen about a three to four times increase in volume, most going into private.

We all knew social was going to grow. 70% of the customers that are phoning your contact center are probably calling you from a mobile phone. Social and mobile, as we know, go hand-in-hand. 

So here’s the thing. For social to work for you, it wasn’t enough that it grew. It had to grow up. That meant educating the customers. You’re promoting social channels as a place to get resolution, private resolution, knowing that it’s convenient, it’s in the moment and we’re paying attention to it as Monster are.

You have to re-educate your customers, try to get them into the private channel, always understanding that it can play out. It’s a contact sport but now it’s a spectator sport.

You’ve got to get the balance right. Why would you invest just to have everyone hear how unhappy your customers are? It’s a synchronous as persistent. You can probably deal with about five to seven customers at any one time.

The ROI roughly of a typical voice resolution is about $8. A typical social resolution is about a $1.20. 

plant growing out of coins

PATRICK: We certainly have to do the quantitative analysis and understand more on what are we doing, but not always necessarily how it’s driving down-funnel.

We have an invested belief that whether or not I can document that it got us revenue, I can tell you that it was the right thing to do. We were there for the customer, we were there for the seeker, in particular again for our brand.

The job seeker, when they come to us, is in sometimes the darkest moment they’ve had in some time, maybe their whole life.

So we want to resolve that issue for them. Our brand is about being there for you in that moment.

Generally speaking that’s how we see social as having the biggest benefit. So we’re like the car, the home-buying industry, right? You use us for six months and then you could move on for three to five years, or if you’re a Millennial it’s one to two years or six months, it depends on who you ask.

But we’ve been trying to think about how social can help us bridge that time-while-you’re-gone, and keep you in the Monster brandscape, so that when you come back to re-utilize the product, you haven’t completely forgotten us. 

Q: What do you think are going be the big changes and innovations in this area in the next few years?

LEIGH: Human interaction and process-based human interaction is going to become much more critical.

You’ve got to deal with the onslaught of automated response tools, Facebook Messenger, direct messaging within Twitter, other channels like that that are expecting to give instant resolution.

But if you can’t get instant resolution the amount of time to losing your patience is also growing even shorter as moments go on. The time to resolution goes down. I think this is an area where we can still see innovation.

PAUL: I think that’s exactly right. Also up-serving, a way to connect sentiment conversion to a revenue event in the moment. There’s no such thing as customer loyalty right now. I think there’s customer admiration. And it’s short-lived, so in that moment where your admiration is high: how can you create a revenue event from that?

Also, for anyone that manages social as a set of channels, and your budget is dwarfed by those guys that still own voice and chat and email, my prediction is that those channels will have to adopt the same characteristics as social. For example, do you do sentiment conversion for email or for chat? The chances are, no. Those of you that are in the hot seat thinking about the social channels, be prepared for other channels to start adopting the characteristics that social has delivered over the last two or three years.

PATRICK: If you look at social, the people who have kind of gotten into this industry and who have helped grow this industry aren’t just people who have liked Facebook or liked Twitter, they were first adopters and they were technologists and futurists.

As the landscape changes, as the platforms change, as the people consuming media on those channels changes, our roles are going to start to change too. It will be interesting to see how.

A massive thank you to our expert panel for sharing their thoughts.

We’ll be sharing more insights from this year’s Now You Know Conference in the coming days and weeks.

Tickets for NYK Europe go on sale in August – register for updates here. Keep us bookmarked, and follow us on Twitter: @Brandwatch.

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