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Sirius,, DirecTV share social customer service, mobile plans

Customer service groups push forward with mobile, social plans to meet customers on their platforms of choice.

The customer service operations of Sirius XM Radio Inc., and DirecTV Inc. have two things in common: There is always the possibility of angry customers -- try explaining bad service to a fanatical sports fan or a client looking for love -- and each is determined to provide social customer service and mobile support to keep their customers happy, wherever they may be.

“My agents are not building widgets,” said Michele Watson, vice president of global customer care at online dating service “They can have very emotional conversations.”

Increasingly, those customer service conversations are taking place on social media channels or mobile devices. Watson, along with customer service executives from Sirius XM Radio and DirecTV, discussed the challenges of delivering quality customer service, regardless of channel, when they participated in a RightNow customer panel late last month.

Oracle announced last month plans to acquire RightNow for $1.5 billion. 

Watson said is adopting RightNow mobile software that lets members access self-help options from their smart phones. She estimated that 30% of its members are now accessing the website through mobile devices, “so [mobile customer service] is really important to us.”

A goal at is to make sure agents, regardless of channel, can converse with customers who can be highly emotional -- for both good and bad reasons.

“It is a challenge to not give them so much technology that they are scripted but to also maintain consistency,” in the message, Watson said.

DirecTV is making a big mobile push for its TV services and “the idea of TV anywhere” requires that the company also provide service to and from those platforms, said Charles Miller, director of digital care and social media at DirecTV.

“The more we put on mobile platforms, the more customers expect service there,” he said.

Sirius Radio just licensed the RightNow contact center software in June and will have it deployed to 3,500 seats by next week, said Michael Moore, vice president of customer care.

“We are building a support model so they can interact with us when they want to,” Moore said. “The near-term challenge is to make sure we are giving customers what they want.”

Sirius uses social to reach disco diehards 
This strategy is increasingly taking Sirius to social channels, where customers are not shy about protesting programming changes. For example, there are diehard disco fans among Sirius’s customers who have turned to Twitter to express dissatisfaction about the amount of 1970s dance music the radio station was offering, Moore said.

“We did open a Studio 54 channel,” but these listeners wanted more, said Michael Moore, vice president of global customer care, of Sirius’ customers.

So Moore and his staff took to Twitter to soothe the disco base. Now the group uses Twitter more proactively. “If we are going to play a Gloria Gaynor block, we will tweet about it,” Moore said in reference to the singer famous for the disco hit “I Will Survive.”

Moore said that when Sirius customer service became involved in social media, it didn’t have a consistent strategy. Instead customers were retelling bad service stories.

“As soon as we put some energy into it and encouraged customers to tell positive stories, we saw the tide turn,” he said.

Moore said Sirius is now assuming a more proactive role, and customers are helping other customers.

DirecTV also relies on social channels to get faster feedback on service quality, Miller said. “If there is a channel that’s having a problem, that shows up very quickly on Twitter,” he added.


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