Monday, September 8, 2014

Achieving Exceptional Social Media Support

Let’s face it-- social media is more than an emerging channel, it is here! According to a recent survey, nearly one in three social media users prefer to reach out to a brand for customer service through a social channel compared to the phone. And to further illustrate the power of social, an overwhelming number of customers will recommend a brand to their friends if they have a positive experience via social media.
Plan for Success
What does this mean for the contact center? Simply stated, we must deliver exceptional social media support. The foundation begins with solid planning. Before starting your program, determine your mission. What do you hope to accomplish via social media support? Once that question is answered, have a clear strategy!

I would caution overextending yourself. You may not need to be everywhere on social media. What I found worked best is being where the customer is. Having a presence for the sake of being on social is not ideal. If no traffic exists, the impression is that you are not engaging your customers. Research where your customers are or where you company is most frequently mentioned.

Hire the Right Agent
Despite our best efforts to skill agents across multiple channels, social media support is not for everyone. Because of the complexity of issues that may arise, as well as the need to rely on and get input from other departments, the ideal candidates should be well spoken and have a good rapport with other departments. My colleague Jeremiah Methven wrote an article in which he suggested some characteristics he looks for in social agents:
  1. Comfort level with social media
  2. Understanding of business sensitivity, company brand, and company voice
  3. A strong desire to resolve issues
Each of these together will ensure issues are resolved in the best manner possible without offending customers or bringing embarrassment to your brand. A social savvy agent can turn a customer complaint into an engagement opportunity that not only wins the customers, but also shows the public your commitment to being exceptional.

Monitor Social Media
Listen to social media! What is being said about your brand? Are you being mentioned? This should include mentions with and without your handle. Listening should also be extended to competitors as well. Active monitoring could lead to a switch in brands. However, it is imperative to be quick and concise during these moments. A timely response and follow-up is essential.
I am often asked, “What should I respond to?” by those just getting acquainted with social media support. My answer is short and simple, “answer everything.” This can be quite a challenge if you are inundated with requests. However, social media should function like your traditional channels. Properly forecast, schedule and staff your team to handle the volume.
Also, prioritize what messages receive a response. During a webinar earlier this year hosted by ICMI, the following prioritization was offered:
  • Urgent Requests
  • Gratitude
  • Negative sentiment
  • FAQ (“This is the “low-hanging fruit.” It’s easiest thing to respond to, and it can drive traffic to your web site if you have this content there.”)
Based on this priority, you can ensure that you are responding to the most important messages. This list can vary, but it serves the purpose of identifying what to answer, and ensures uniformity across the team. Everyone knows what to respond to and they are aware of the priority of importance for messages. This will help minimize customer concerns from falling through the cracks, while ensuring the best possible response is given.
Social media support can be challenging, but when carefully planned and properly executed, it is a great way to serve your customer.

Sean is a Customer Experience, Contact Center and Help desk manager with over 12 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

His contact center is a past winner of the ICMI "Global Call Center of the Year" for Small to Medium-Sized Centers. In addition, he was named one of of ICMI's Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leaders on Twitter. Follow on Twitter @SeanBHawkins or connect on LinkedIn. 

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