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A Social Customer Care Veteran Shares The Secrets to Success [Podcast]

July 26, 2016 Dan Gingiss

As social customer care is still in its nascent period, it’s not easy to find someone who’s been doing it for even five years. Well, after interviewing Joshua March on the technology side for the last Focus on Customer Service podcast episode, we’ve found a second person, Delfin Vassallo, on the brand side. Delfin (pronounced Del-feen), a 20-year marketing veteran, started in social media seven years ago and in social care five years ago. He helped build the successful social care programs in Europe at Barclays Bank, Nokia, and Microsoft.

Delfin recalls spending an incredible amount of time trying to convince management that social customer service was a thing five years ago. “Our customers are on Facebook, [they] are on Twitter,” he would say. “We have to be there. We must be there.” And Delfin has been there, working with three major companies to start and grow their social customer care practice. At Nokia, he ended up managing 67 Facebook pages and more than 40 Twitter handles.

A major focus has been on proving the ROI of delivering customer service via social media. At first he convinced executives that despite a plethora of early complaints, the company was “going to save some money by broadcasting all this information” because “there are many other customers watching.” But in time he developed calculations to determine the “cost per issue” as a measure of comparison to a traditional call center. At one company, he found that Twitter’s cost per issue, in Euros, was half the cost of the telephone. Online customer communities delivered even better cost savings – a fraction of the cost of Twitter.

What’s changed in the 5 years since “social customer service” entered the lexicon? “Understanding at the executive level has increased so it’s easier to sell in,” says Delfin. “The awareness of social care is even bigger [and] the technology has advanced a lot.”

Delfin joined me and Dan Moriarty from his current home in Finland to discuss his vast knowledge of all things social media.

Here are some key points in Episode 36 and where to find them:

1:03 Delfin’s professional background

2:32 Delfin discusses launching a social care program in regulated industry

6:16 Convincing management that social care is a good idea even with many complaints

9:37 Calculating an ROI on social customer service

12:37 How to handle agent workload before a program gets to scale

17:15 What has changed in the 5 years that Delfin has been involved in social customer service

19:33 Delfin discusses balancing the many technology options available today

23:38 Integrating social customer service with a company’s CRM system

27:10 Delfin recalls a memorable customer interaction

In the next Focus on Customer Service episode, we'll return to highlighting a single brand with an award-winning financial services company. If you’ve had a great experience with a brand on social media, we want to hear about it! Please use the comments or tweet using #FOCS and we will try to get that brand on a future episode. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundhound.

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