At your service: 5 key points to help you on your own social customer service journey

Danielle Sheerin

It’s customer service first and foremost

Many businesses assume young people are best placed to deliver social customer service, as they are used to operating on social media and familiar with the technology.  This is a mistake. Supporting and helping customers is a skill in itself, whatever the medium.  It requires sensitivity, maturity and excellent problem-solving skills. Remember, social customer service is still customer service and the people that can deliver this best are your customer service agents.

An understanding of social media is vital

These agents will also require a firm grounding in social technology.  They will need training to use social and monitoring tools effectively. More importantly, they need to understand and appreciate the distinct tone and etiquette social requires and be familiar with best practice, as well as the not insignificant risks that social media can pose for organisations.

Personality matters

Even with a background in customer service and the necessary social media training, not everyone is suited for social customer service.  Truly great social customer service requires a particular blend of personality traits and characteristics, including: confidence, tact, humour and warmth.  A top tip to help identify these people is to trial staff with simulated customer care situations.  This can help you spot those that will be able to handle the pressure social brings, providing succinct but human responses in a calm and measured way.

Empower them to provide end-to-end support

Your social customer care agents must be able to deliver support at the point of contact within agreed service level agreements.  When a customer contacts your business on social for support, they do not expect to be asked to contact another channel.  If your agents cannot provide end-to-end support from social, then you risk creating a poor customer experience, as well as increasing your operating costs as you pass customers from one support touch-point to another.  This means trusting staff to communicate on social without pre-approval and investing in back-end systems to tie social to your existing CRM tools.

Create a mandate for change

When customers complain through traditional channels there are processes for logging and monitoring these ‘complaints’.  But not everything is a complaint and on social you will also see suggestions, comments and opinions.  Your social customer care agents should be tracking these insights and feeding them back into the business. Social provides a great way for businesses to spot potential risks and opportunities, but these will only count if the business recognizes the value of this learning, creating channels to share insights and a mandate to act on them.