How to Staff a Star Social Support Team
As you step inside any contact center or meet with any support manager, there is always one common theme: staffing. It is no secret that social has completely changed the way companies staff support teams. Understanding how social has upended certain hiring practices while reinforcing others is essential to recruiting and staffing your social teams.
An Organization of Experts
Many organizations are still building a social customer response team by handpicking or selectively hiring social agents with experience in a traditional call center (often their own). It is important to recognize that social is not a channel and therefore, companies must look across the entire organization of experts as potential points of customer engagement. In practical terms, that means any employee is potentially an agent. That is really hard for some companies to grasp.
On a similar note, brands should not overcomplicate social. Thinking about the core customer care team engaging via social media support model isn't all that different than any other support medium. Sure, the skills may be different - agents have to type as well as talk- and the risks may be higher -- accidentally responding with information about a customer's account on a public instead of private message, but the basic support process-listening to and empathizing with customers, crafting a solution and following it through to closure-is the same.
The Making of a Great Social Agent
The basic support process guided by the customer care team is also availed by other potential engagers. These engagers are employees from product development, innovation teams and other teams that have deep and specialized process knowledge and as such are part of (directly, or as back-up) to the support team. Keeping this in mind, staffing for social means considering both the core support role and the experts that support these agents. All of these aspects of the support team allow companies to enhance their ability to engage customers at scale.
When a company can identify their experts, they need to define what it means to be a great social agent. More than anything else, a good social agent understands simultaneously the business objectives of the organization, the situation and context giving rise to the customer inquiry, the resources at-hand that can be applied to the issue, and any constraints around the potential solution path. This has been true of support professionals all along, and surely continues in an age of public, visible support interactions.
Establishing Performance Metrics
Once establishing what the expectations are of a good social agent, it is important to define performance metrics. There can be more nuanced metrics related to productivity due to the sheer volume of social traffic. Some traditional metrics, like handle time and first contact resolution, may need to be tweaked a little due to the asynchronous nature of social. At the core, the most meaningful business metrics - ROI, achievement of revenue goals and customer satisfaction - remain unchanged.
Finding the Right Agent
So now you are probably thinking, "OK we know who to look for and what to look for, but how do we find them?" In the past -and by past, I mean 5 years ago - reward programs targeted towards incentivizing experienced staffers to join the social ranks may have worked. But, today we are seeing certain agent qualities like empathy and humility trump policies that reward tenure. What's important to investigate however is that the rewards for social support agents should be the same for normal support employees.
Let's put it this way: if social agents are not motivated by the same rewards as other employees, there is something wrong at an organizational level that probably needs to be addressed before a social engagement program is considered! Effective social engagement-leading to visible customer advocacy-depends heavily on purpose-based alignment across the organization. The excitement of support, whether as a font-line social agent or a deep-knowledge process expert, is that you never really know what the next request is going to be. Combine that with the almost universal personal satisfaction that comes from helping someone, makes for a very exciting job. That is what should get employees fired up about going to work.
Your Star Social Support Team
By expanding social engagement across the organization by way of experts, employees connect more deeply with the shared business objectives of that organization. Tangible connection to shared purpose is absolutely associated with-in fact, it is a pre-cursor to-above-average employee retention. As a result, this attracts the best and brightest in the field. Set up a social strategy with agents and knowledgeable experts and retention will take care of itself.
If a brand can focus on these few things when recruiting and staffing their social support teams, they will be golden!
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