By Boniface Ngahu in Blog

Jul 6, 2015

When you make a call to any call centre you are likely to get the standard response that starts with the automated prompts for self-service. This is followed by salutation after which a call centre rep asks how he/she can help you. It closes with a gratitude message for calling, being a customer or both. Often, it is all polite and standardized, with the exception of unique cases where the call centre staff may use their discretion.

When customers opt to contact a company via social media, some differences emerge. First, the chances of getting a response depending on whether the company has a dedicated resource to respond to social media concerns or not. Secondly, the nature of the enquiry, style, and language used tend to dictate how the issue is responded to. The other difference is that other people can view the concerns and comments and share them or add their opinions.

Last year three Kenyan companies - Safaricom, Kenya Power, and Equity Bank - were ranked by a global study among the best users of social media in customer relationship management. The report by Social Bakers indicated that the three companies had an average response time to social media enquiries of less than one hour, with Safaricom being the best with 17 minutes response time. The results also showed that tens of thousands of questions had been handled using this channel.

A look at some of the responses provided on social media platforms brings out an interesting trend. The tone tends to be engaging, less official or even driven by the customer's language. Some of the responses are as comical as the customers' own messages, which makes this relatively new channel a good candidate for bringing sexy back to customer service. The responses are shared or rewetted widely for fun creating a buzz for the company or brand.

Recently, a Chase Bank customer tweeted that he trusts the bank with his money but the bank could not trust him with their pen due to the string attached to it in the banking hall. He/she ended the comment with "sawa tu" (it's fine though). The bank tweeted back stating that as the relationship bank they knew too well that relationships with strings attached last longer. A Safaricom customer who had topped up his airtime to call his girlfriend who didn't pick the call wanted to know if he could reverse the top-up. His tweet was in Sheng and the response from Safaricom was "Huwesmek" for that's mission impossible.

Brands also participated in consoling a blogger under the hashtag #polekwamwirigi after a girl he was associated with announced on her blog that she was engaged. One consolation message from NTV stated, "No one can turn on your world like we do." This approach makes it easier to get customers and creates stronger emotional connections. It is also more appropriate in reaching out to younger audiences who find it easier to express themselves online and through text than through face-to-face or voice.

If you are not yet in this space, it's time to make some investments; it is going to be big in the future.