SocialMiner 2: Real-Time Social Media Customer Care

Blog Post created by famous on Mar 19, 2011

This is the first in a series of blog posts on Cisco SocialMiner 2*  Hopefully these blogs will give you a picture of what we've implemented in version 2, why, and where we are going from here with Cisco SocialMiner.


Tod Famous




The Case for Real-Time

Real-time is one of the most important aspects of SocialMiner and it's an important part of how we approach customer care technology.  Speed is such an important part of customer service and companies that provide prompt high-quality service have the opportunity to distinguish themselves regardless of the channel.  Social media customer care is still an emerging business practice and over the past year as I've spoken with hundreds of customers about their social media engagement practices.  I generally get blank stares when I bring up concepts like service level goals.


"When a customer writes a question on your companies' Facebook wall what is your average speed of answer?"


One "new thing" about Social Media is that there is no guessing or surveys to access how a company is performing from a responsiveness perspective.  We browse together and look at their Facebook Page and right there I can see customers asking questions and I can see how long it takes the company to respond.  The same applies to Twitter or other public discussion forums.  These web communication platforms keep track of the "when" therefore it only takes a few minutes to get the picture on how responsive a company is being to customer inquiries.  The other aspect of this "new thing" is that you can quickly do the same for your competitors and evaluate where you stand.  The very public nature of this channel will cause a very quick follower adoption model as it's so apparent when a company is lagging their peers.


How fast should you respond?  Historically in customer service, the expected response times will depend on the channel and by default companies will be held to the typical etiquette for that channel.  For example, if you send someone an email you expect a response in 24 hours or you worry it was missed.  This expectation has allowed companies to follow suit and implement 24 hour service level goals for email even though they could likely do much better with the right tools and process.  If you call someone and leave a voicemail, you expect a return call that same day. If you send them a text page you expect them to reply as soon as they can, either immediately or within the hour.  If you see someone is present on IM (Instant Messaging) you expect an immediate response.


Social Networks are still emerging as communication platforms but you can already see the social norms developing.  If you post on someone's Facebook wall or if you Mention a friend on Twitter you expect that they get an immediate alert of their mobile phone.  I would characterize the response expectation as most similar to text messaging therefore an immediate response is common and a response within an hour or so is defensible.  A next day response indicates they are avoiding you


I regularly see companies respond to Facebook wall posts several days after the customer post.  I think the time is running out on this model as we see companies putting in place the right people, process and technology (like SocialMiner) to accelerate their responses to meet the social norm.


Just a few days ago I read a newsletter from DMG Consulting: Proactive Customer Service Empowered by Social Media where Donna Flus was advocating "Staff the social media channels with the same service level goals as your phones, or nearly as quick".  I think this is going to be more and more the norm in the years ahead.  Also, it's really not that hard to do with the right technology!


The Technology

Cisco SocialMiner was built to be a real-time product and by real time we mean that when a customer posts on the social web, the post is queued to agents within seconds.  This is one of the architectural characteristics that distinguishes SocialMiner from the listening analytics tools.  The listening tools often process and analyze social media posts in batches every few hours.  From an analytics perspective this is often described as "real time" and a view that's a only a few hours old is indeed "real-time" from a brand sentiment perspective; however the definition of real time is clearly different for customer service.


One of the major new features in Cisco SocialMiner 8.5(2) is "notifications".  There are several types of notifications but in this blog we're going to focus on the fastest: Instant Messaging (IM).  Our IM implementation is based on XMPP as that is the Cisco preferred protocol for IM.  (btw, I believe we're the first social media customer care product on the market to support XMPP notifications.)


The notification feature uses IM to alert a person or group of people in real time that a social contact has been assigned to them.  For this first release we haven't gone as far as automatically sending IMs to users for every single social contact arrival (Our take on that model is coming in version 3....) but we're implementing notifications based on the application of a tag.  Tags are an important concept in SocialMiner as they allow users to categorize work but they also serve to define "queues" of work for specialists.  Our anticipated workflow for this feature is where the Social Media team sees a post that requires immediate assistance by a certain person or group of people therefore they assign it by clicking a tag.  The application of that tag causes SocialMiner to immediately launch the IM notifications to the users configured to be notified for that tag therefore this new IM Notification feature provides real-time escalation of social contacts to the most appropriate expert.


We continue to strive to keep SocialMiner simple and XMPP is a great example of how a powerful technology can be really simple.  The setup for the XMPP service requires the entry of a domain and username/password.  That's it.  Click save and you're done.  For our internal Cisco deployment of IM, the XMPP domain is cisco.com and the account is our email account.




This also works great with another popular XMPP service, google chat: enter google.com and a gmail account and your SocialMiner system can now send IM notifications from a Google account.


Once the XMPP service is set up you are free to define Notification rules in the new "Notifications" gadget.  Rules are set up on a campaign basis, so you choose the campaign, the tag you want to trigger the notification, and then enter the Jabber IDs (instant message IDs).  We've also given you the flexibility to control what content to put into the alert.  For example, you can put the body of the social contact (the Tweet or Facebook post) into the IM.  Warning, if your campaign is pulling blogs for example a blog like this then it's probably best not to put that into the body of the IM



Here's a video showing how to configure the IM Notification rule.


Note: You can find all the SocialMiner training videos on Youtube.



*The official Cisco version number is 8.5(2)