I've worked with a number of different customer service teams across various industries over the last year in an effort to create benchmark use cases, and one regular piece of feedback from those on the front line is that social channels are a constant battle ground. Although social media presents great opportunities, many businesses are having difficulty with the free-flowing, round-the-clock, public nature and the expectation of immediate responses (Five minutes according to IBM!!).
Does the following story sound familiar?
The year is 2013. You've been following the growing trend for leading companies to offer some form of engagement over social media that isn’t marketing focussed. You gather the evidence, and lead the charge to gain internal buy-in to do the same at your organisation. Encouraged by the potential return on investment, your proposal is approved (congratulations!).
The year is 2014. You develop a social engagement strategy, select a platform to deliver the service from and assemble your team (some great tips on how to assemble the perfect team here). You experience great success - your customers love you! But, guess what? Your success leads to higher levels of engagement, and in greater volume too. Soon, the need to scale up becomes apparent. You expand your team but discover that the software you originally chose doesn't lend itself easily to the management of large teams (more on that here) and just when you’re thinking it might be time to review your approach, your team suffers a social media crisis which invites a huge stream of negativity into your brand space and completely demoralises your representatives.
At this stage, it may be tempting to pull the plug or cover up Testudo style, but I’m hoping you’ll go with a more hard-nosed response. In other words: Retreat? Hell, we just got here!
I would urge you to meet the challenge head on and give it (useful, timely and resolution focused) Hell: Your inbound volume increases? Respond QUICKER. A business decision leads to negative social chatter? Respond SMARTER through proactive outreach. Struggling to gain buy in for operational improvements from your exec team? Use a solution that enables you to show decision making based on INSIGHT rather than assumptions.
The year is 2015! If I were a Social Media Battle Commander (or Contact Centre Manager :) ) I would be laying out a strategy that looked something like this:
- We must provide proactive support for social customer service, making its existence widely known in our marketing materials and support collateral.
- We must strive for aggressive engagement aimed at exceeding customer demands.
- We are an interactive rather than reactive service, allowing us to anticipate what customers want and need—before they tell us.
- We recognize social media for its viral power and we aim to leverage that reach to influence our market.
- Where possible, our conversations must connect with customers on a deeply personal and emotional level in order to build relationships and trust.
At Conversocial, we would call this a #SocialFirst strategy, and you can read more about that in our 2015 Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service.
But no matter what you call your social engagement strategy, make sure that it not only supports your customers but also your customer care team. As customer service demands and expectations grow (you can see a State of Social Customer Service 2015 infographic here), you’ll need to adapt your operations, technology and culture appropriately.
(You can also find me on Twitter here)