Social media support is still an uncharted frontier for many support departments. As a result, call center managers may be unsure what attributes to look for when hiring or training a social media support agent. Although a great social agent will share many common characteristics with a great phone or chat support agent, there are certainly some traits that are of greater importance in the social media world. Here are a few attributes that I’ve found are imperative for an agent to be able to provide outstanding social media support.
1. Comfort level with social media
Ideally, your outstanding social agent will have a background in social media. If they already have their own Twitter account that they frequently post to, that’s a good sign that they have a high familiarity with social media and an understanding of how communication operates in that sphere. Plus, it affords the opportunity for a hiring manager to evaluate how the potential agent behaves in the social media space and whether they demonstrate the professionalism and comfort level required to excel in the role.
2. Understanding of business sensitivity
It’s critical for your social agent to always keep in mind that a social media interaction can be viewed by anybody. Thus, it’s important to be able to simultaneously find a suitable resolution for a customer while also avoiding casting the company in a dim light. This is not to say that your business should act like it has something to hide, but rather that Twitter is probably not the place to get bogged down in the exact details of your refund policy. Thus, in a lot of cases, it may be better for your agent to view a tweet or a Facebook post as a starting point for a conversation rather than trying to fix everything in one 140-character tweet. If necessary, the agent should be prepared to reach out by private message, email, or phone call.
3. Empowerment to seek solutions
If a customer is engaging your company on social media, there’s a good chance that they’ve already contacted your Support department through more traditional channels and weren’t able to find a resolution. Your social agent should have the willingness and to be able to provide a solution that for whatever reason, the customer wasn’t able to find in your traditional channels. That includes the ability to engage with other teams that may be able to assist or to bring in a supervisor or manager when appropriate. If there is something that could have been done better when the customer first reached out, then the social agent should be empowered to pass that message on to the appropriate team so your business can get it right the next time.
Now if you’re reading these traits and thinking that they have a lot in common with the attributes of any great support agent, you’re absolutely right! Ultimately, you want your most outstanding agents managing social media support because a social interaction has such high visibility. Your customer base doesn’t have the opportunity to listen to all of your company’s recorded phone calls, but they certainly can browse your Facebook page to see how you have responded to customer grievances. Your CEO likely won’t be taking the time to read through all of your support chat transcripts, but there’s a much higher chance they’ll be monitoring the company Twitter account. With that in mind, keep the above characteristics at the forefront and put your social agent in a position to shine!
Jeremiah Methven leads two support teams for a leading software-as-a-service company. His teams handle all social media support (primarily Twitter and Facebook) as well as API and custom integration support. They also provide internal assistance and coaching, and document and triage all software bugs.