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Summer is upon us and I for one am looking forward to chilling by the pool or heading out to the beach. Whilst my thoughts are firmly set on winding down, Retailers & E-tailers, of course, are heading in the opposite direction.

For retailers, it’s about gearing up for year-end sales and making sure they are adequately prepared to address the festive rush. The question I ask today is, are you adequately prepared for the rush over social media? Do they have a robust social customer service plan in place to ensure they will be continuously winning?

We used Social Bakers Analytics Pro to see who the biggest Retailers & E-tailers were on Facebook in South Africa. We looked at how they fared over the past year and what happened between September and January 2013/14.


Retailer & E-tailer Local Facebook Fan Ranking – November 2014

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Pick n Pay are leading quite significantly in 2014 with over 500 000 local Facebook fans and Shoprite and Checkers almost neck and neck at around 450 000. All 3 have had excellent growth over the past year, overtaking Woolworths who was top in 2013 with Checkers recording a noteworthy increase of 194% year on year. My Spar registered the worst growth at 38% moving from 4th to 8th place, quite clearly bucking the investment trends of this years front runners.

With our Retailers & E-tailers top 10 growing an average of 99% in local fans over the past year and massive 184% average increase in user posts between September and January 2013/14, the perfect storm is brewing for a social customer care explosion in South Africa. In light of this, I have put together my top 6 ways to make sure you are ready for the festive season.

6 Ways to ensure your customer service operation is ready for the festive season


1. Know who you’re talking to

When customers reach out to you on social media they want to carry on their existing conversations with you, not start afresh. This is a major challenge in a multi-channel customer service environment.

Make sure your team has full visibility of your customer’s social history and has access to any other customer data sources. Do this and you will offer a much better customer experience.

2. Know what your customers are talking about

Do you notice that the bulk of issues are urgent or do you notice a more common trend in topic? Customers could be talking about technical or specialist issues. They could also be coming to you about something sensitive, so you need to understand this and be equipped to handle all of them.

The tone in which you talk to your customers over social will differ to the tone you use over email or phone. Be sure to align customer service with marketing, provide correct and incorrect examples of responses. Run an offline training workshop and if using a solution make use of the approvals.

3. Prioritise

With the increase in amount of posts outstripping that already large fan growth by more than two fold, prioritising those conversations to cut out the clutter becomes more and more important.

Unlike private channels, social media consists of many messages and interactions that do not require a response. A study of retailers using Conversocial found that 50% of social media messages merited an agent’s attention, only 10% of which required a response. This demand to noise ratio does, however, vary across companies and industries, with service providers often seeing much higher volumes of actionable conversations (in the range of 50–80%).

It is important for managers to define criteria for what their team should respond to first. What is high priority? What should be always guaranteed to receive a response?


4. Redirection is not good customer service

Customers know that social media offers a different customer experience to traditional channels. They have chosen to speak with your company there, as it is convenient and human. They might even have potentially exhausted and lost confidence in other channels.

Redirecting customers away from their chosen support channel is one of the worst customer service experiences possible, forcing customers to interact in a form they have not chosen. It might seem easier to pass customers onto another channel but making the effort to keep customers on their chosen path will provide a better experience.

5. Build an escalation process

For sensitive or detailed customer issues that require escalation to another team or team member, it’s important to have clear processes in place. This will allow agents to easily handle incoming messages without confusion or delay.

Develop an escalation map that provides:

  • Clear guidelines explaining which messages agents can respond to
  • A comprehensive breakdown of the types of messages frontline agents cannot immediately respond to, and the team responsible for each type.
  • A quick method of escalating messages — along with the full case history and context — to the relevant team.

6. Have a crisis management plan in place

Social media provides an early warning system for developing business issues. As such, it is critical to have a clearly defined social media crisis management plan in place.

For effective crisis protection:

  • Create a holding message as quickly as possible
  • Draft different responses for agents to use as template examples
  • Establish clear criteria for when a message has to be escalated to PR or Legal
  • Create a responsibility schedule for escalated messages

If you follow these simple steps you will be well on your way to winning social customer care and delighting your customers this festive season. What’s working for you?

Would you like to know how Tesco has become a market leading social customer care retailer in the UK? Or the thoughts of Jordan Wallace, whose Gorilla Creative agency won gold for social customer care at the New Generation Awards in Sandton last month? Join us for our Winning With Social Customer Care This Festive Season Webinar on November 21st at 11am.


WhySatisfy is dedicated to providing brands with the technology, training and support to take control of their digital interactions with customers. We believe that a brand’s responsibility to their customers is more than the one-way provision of a product or service. It is the fulfillment of their desires, expectations, needs or demands. This is why brands satisfy their customers. And this is why we exist.

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