My 5 Rules For Social Benchmarking
My 5 Rules For Social Benchmarking

This week sees the annual conference of the International Association of Reservation Executives (IARE). The association is focused on the travel industry, but these days that’s a broad group of companies including airlines, cruise companies, car rental companies, hotels and travel resorts.

The focus of the conference is largely on best practices in customer service, but one of the talks yesterday caught my eye in particular because it focused on social media benchmarking.

This is a subject I have been interested in for a long time and it’s strange because these benchmarks appear to be different across different companies – let alone entire industries.

For example, think about the experience you have when you call a contact center because you need help with a product. How do you feel if the phone rings 20 times before being answered? Or what about if it is answered immediately, but you are then placed on hold with a voice saying ‘your call is important to us’ even though it is clearly not all that important.

Over the years many benchmarks have been created for voice calls. There are standards around First Call Resolution (FCR) for example, because we know that customers like to have their problems resolved during the first call they make. If the customer has to make several calls and deal with several agents then the experience becomes very poor.

But most social media channels are asynchronous. A customer leaving a question on your company Facebook page or tweeting a question does not expect a reply within seconds – they are usually happy to wait. In many cases customers will use these channels in preference to making a phone call because it means they can ask the question and then get on with their day, rather than needing to sit on the phone.

But we still need some benchmarks that work for social channels so we can see if our own standards meet what customers expect. Where you set the bar will usually need some research within your own business – customers in different industries have different expectations, but here are five rules that I would suggest you need to consider when planning social benchmarks:


  1. It’s OK to not offer a 24/7 social service, but only if you explicitly say that on your social profiles. If you don’t tell people when they will get an answer then they will assume you are open 24/7 for questions.
  2. Answer questions fast. The definition of fast is open and depends on your business, but if you are taking more than an hour to respond to social questions then you need to explore how to improve that.
  3. Answer using the same channel. If a customer asks a question on Twitter then answer on Twitter. Don’t just tweet a standard response saying ‘We would love to help you – please call us on…’
  4. Your corporate voice and approach will generally be more casual and friendly on social channels – give the social agents freedom to actually be nice to customers.
  5. Multiple contacts with the customer are OK on social. As opposed to the telephone call it’s OK to ask a question on a social channel then follow it up with another. It’s more like a dialogue with the customer and should not be compared to a call where FCR is the main objective.


If you are at the IARE event today then do say hello, leave a comment here, or get in touch via  LinkedIn.
Photo by Di Chap licensed under Creative Commons.