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How Do Best Buy Manage Social Customer Service?

At the Social Media for Customer Service Summit a couple of weeks ago, a number of companies opened the kimono to share how they approach social customer service.

There were many different views on how to manage social customer service, and on how to hire and train social media agents. Last week, we wrote about FedEx's approach. Today we'll be sharing how Best Buy manage their social customer service programme. 

At the summit, Gina Debogovich (Director and Social Media Leader) and Elizabeth Sevcik (ECC Social Media Supervisor) from Best Buy spoke about the three core parts of their social customer service programme:

1. Social customer care team 

A team of 21 full time 'community connectors' responding directly for customer service issues on Facebook and Twitter (to and from official accounts) - the voice of Best Buy. Made up of fully trained customer service agents.

2. Retail & corporate employees  

All of their 180,000 employees are given the opportunity to train and engage in social media. Out of these they have 3,000 active participating employees who are trained using internal wikis, videos, group sessions etc to find and resolve issues in social media - whether it's a friend asking a question on Facebook or if they just see someone tweeting a question at random. 

3. Brand advocates

Customers who want to help. Their forums are primarily peer to peer - 84% of all forum questionnaire answered by other customers. They have 26 unpaid super users who spend 8-12 hours on the forum each, just in return for recognition. They have a badge and avatar system to give kudos to customers who help, which they find is a strong enough incentive. This is a great way of reducing overall support costs; and a way of tapping in to specific customer knowledge that they might not even have internally (an example they gave was integration between Best Buy products and products they don't sell).

According to Gina and Elizabeth, social media shows the real customer experience - you can't just highlight the best cases. It's forced transparency, whether you want it or not.  

Although we hear a lot about Best Buy's innovative training and empowerment of their retail and corporate employees, we don't hear as much about their core enterprise customer care team, who run the official accounts full time. 

At the summit, they shared how they hire and train these super important staff who take care of direct questions and complaints. 

Hiring

Their community connectors must have a minimum of 6 months internal customer service experience before they can apply; and the core thing they look for is strong writing skills. 

Training

The agents receive 4 weeks consumer relations training on how to deal with questions and complaints publicly rather than the private channels they've been used to. Then, a further two weeks 'social training' to ensure they fully understand the ins and outs and community norms of the social platforms they'll be working on. 

Once they're up and running, all of their public posts are then reviewed by a manager before going live for 2-3 months. These agents are becoming the voice of Best Buy online, so ensuring they're speaking in the right tone is key. 

Their internal social media policy is publicly available on their website, and given to all employees in the company. It tried to be common sense to say simply what you can do (e.g. always say you work for Best Buy); what you can't (e.g. leak confidential information) and re-enforces their key principles for effective social media communication:

"Be smart. Be respectful. Be human." 

Also in this series:

"When do you need to take conversations off social?"

"How Do FedEx Train Their Social Media Agents?"

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