CEM isn't rocket science, it just takes hard work

22 May 2014

SmarTone CEO Douglas Li was in Guangzhou last week with his CTO doing a monthly review of its hotline performance. Specifically they were looking at the 0.43% of callers who rated it “bad” when taking its customer satisfaction survey.

For April, of the odd 7,000 who completed the survey (about 30,000 were invited) 95% rated its service “good” and 4.7% rated it "acceptable”.

The management team reviewed the background of each of the 19 cases to see what happened, look for lessons learned and determine what steps need to be taken to rectify each issue. He says the hotline team reviews the recordings, talks to the staff and the customer, so the full story is laid out.

Li said making improvements can require retraining, a process change in a retail shop or a business flow change. “All sorts of things evolve from these meetings. That for us is customer experience management.”

So CEM isn’t some esoteric puzzle only the right mix of consultants, vendors and service provider acquiescence can solve. Certainly it isn’t easy and requires the right systems, as Li discusses later. It requires rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work, which isn’t sexy, but as SmarTone has found, it can be very effective.

Turning to “managing” customers via social media channels, Li said that to be able to respond quickly to enquiries in a credible way and not send something fluffy, you need to have an information system that can identify if there are similar complaints from others.

“The system must be able to collate data from all points in your business so the Facebook team can see if the problem exists elsewhere,” he says.

SmarTone set up a team a couple of years ago to look seriously at how to handle Facebook interactions in both directions.

Li notes that on the one hand Facebook is a place for you to engage customers or potential customers by explaining your brand’s point of view, positioning, what you stand for, your way of doing things as well as outline your products and services.

“But one has to be careful about doing that, because it you don’t get the balance right, no one wants to stay on your page.”

He warns that before you do that, you have to be ready for people who make genuine as well as not genuine complaints. “They could be your competitors banging the rail on you. So you have to be prepared to answer.”

SmarTone aims to answer pretty much everything on Facebook. “That means you have to have the systems, processes and people in place to handle this, and you need to set standards as to how you do things, when you do them and how long you allow them to carry on.”

This preparation requires a major organizational effort, Li says, noting that you have to learn and modify along the way.

He said the target is to respond within an hour and to follow up with additional information within a day after it looks into a previously unreported complaint, such as a network problem. Once an issue is resolved, it is reported back on Facebook, so others can track the story from beginning to end. If it involves a site visit, a resolution may take a couple of days.

SmarTone has found that those with genuine issues will follow up and identify themselves when asked for more detail while those doing it for fun or malaise tend not to respond.

He said SmarTone is quite tough on non-genuine complaints. After following up three times in thee days on Facebook, if the person doesn’t respond, it identifies them as fake and un-friends them.

“If you have a serious complaint, you will respond almost instantly – certainly within a day. If you don’t respond in three days, you’re a fake and you’re out. We are public about that. But if want to come back again, we’re more than happy to serve you.”

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