All forms of customer service share the same core values. But social media brings in completely new rules of play that you need to educate your social customer service team in. How can you best deliver great customer service while adapting to the demands and challenges of social media?
1. As Customer Service becomes the front line of social communication for your company, the lines between community engagement and customer service become blurred. Customers speak to companies in a different way on Facebook and Twitter, raising a whole range of different subjects. Your customer service representatives will need to move away from simple issue resolution, and dip into general chatter from time to time. When customers give feedback about products, for example, your team can deliver a better experience and obtain better information if they enter into a real conversation.
2. Entering this public space with multiple types of communication going on requires a completely different tone of voice. Most customer service agents find it a completely new challenge to relax their language and enter into professional but light-hearted and friendly conversation with customers. Your Customer Service team can do this with the right training, but knowing how to deliver your response, not just what to say, takes practice and requires support from marketing and management.
3. Rethink how responses should be approached - social customer service requires a more complex map of things to be considered before hitting reply. For social customer service to appear genuine and fulfil customers’ desire for a more human experience, assistance must be more responsive to the content and tone of each message. In the sensitive world of social, some things need the attention of PR teams and you’ll need to make sure your Customer Service team has relationships with relevant contacts in other departments, and knows when to reach out to them.
4. Response speed is more important than ever. It’s not possible to rely on automated acknowledgements of social customer service requests - so agents need to make sure that everything which needs a response gets one in record time. For frequently asked questions it may be possible to use a template response (but even then it’s essential to adapt it to the customer and situation - copy and pasting the same response multiple times can be a recipe for disaster); for bigger issues you should post a holding message to let the customer know that you’re working on a resolution and will get back to them soon.
5. Agents need to understand how to handle conversations that switch between public and private channels - and when to manage the switch. When a customer complains on Twitter or Facebook, it’s because they are looking to get their issues solved through these channels. For most companies starting out with Social Customer Service, it’s tempting, and much more comfortable to send customers to the channels they’re more familiar with - even if it’s not best for the customer (or your brand - as other customers don’t see the resolution). Give your agents the right support and training so that they can break the comfort zone of regimented private emails, but know when sensitive information should be taken to private and direct messages. Get your customer service team to feel proud of their good service, and excited to show it off to the world.
What changes have you implemented to make your customer service team social? We’re interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.