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5 Steps to Building the Social Messaging Support Team of the Future

Harry Rollason
By Harry Rollason on Apr 4, 2018 4:19:40 PM

After helping hundreds of organizations develop tens of thousands of digital support agents, we can say with confidence that the best social, mobile support teams aren’t born – they’re made.

However, social messaging support is a new frontier. Most people now use social media and messaging apps in their private lives. And though not everyone is cut out for the pressures of digital support, the skills needed to be successful there can be taught.

Here is how to create an outstanding digital support team.

5 steps to building the digital support team of the future


1. Secure executive buy-in

The digital adoption curve applies just as well within organizations as it does outside. Wherever there are tech-forward innovators, there are stalwarts who aren’t ready to make the switch. It’s up to the innovators to convince them.

Within your organization, gather the executive team to ensure its buy-in for social messaging support. There are many ways to make the case. There is the ROI argument which states that organizations who adopted digital support saw a 272 percent return and dramatically cut support costs. There is the bandwagon argument, which rests on the fact that 54 percent of consumers now prefer to message brands. And there is the preventative medicine argument: The forces that are pushing customers to adopt social and messaging channels are only accelerating. The longer organizations wait to make the switch, the harder it will be to catch up.

Proper executive support should manifest itself in the budget to hire headcount and acquire new tools.

2. Hire only the the best

Digital support teams are considered elite contributors within contact centers. They’re virtual brand ambassadors with demanding, public-facing roles. Hire the best candidates for this team and treat it as the crown of customer support agent career hierarchy.

When interviewing candidates, select those that can confidently decide when to handle a sensitive issue and when to escalate. Hire people who are endlessly curious and willing to stay up-to-date as the ecosystem changes, and ones who excel at empathy and relationships. People’s personalities aren’t constant – character traits fluctuate based on environment – so it’s of utmost importance to get the founding culture right. It will reinforce the behaviors you want to see.

Hire candidates who can be:

  • Empathic
  • Confident
  • Curious
  • Articulate
  • Resilient

Internal candidates often fare the best. They come with a ready understanding of the business, ramp up faster, and your digital team will be able to view their past performance before extending an offer. But when necessary, look for outside candidates and only settle for those who fit the entire bill.

For more on hiring candidates, read The 2017-18 Definitive Guide to Social, Digital Customer Service.

3. Train for digital fluency

Digital fluency is almost entirely unrelated to age. Social media tools can be taught while the personality traits that make for a great agent are much harder to find.

Once they are hired, provide candidates with your social playbook and familiarize them with tools from the ground up. Begin with a refresher on the nuances of various social media sites and rich messaging services. Build their confidence and then slowly empower them to begin shadowing agents and practicing with real clients. Some of the most important lessons they will learn cannot be taught, so make sure that teams have opportunities to share their knowledge.

When training agents:

  • Start with the basics
  • Keep training simple, grow their confidence
  • Review responses and discuss
  • Train as a team
  • Measure clear targets
  • Re-evaluate consistently

4. Evaluate agents on the channels they’ll use

The best way to evaluate candidates and their growth is to test them on the tools they use for support. Give agents messages to respond to on messaging apps and social platforms and have them reply under timed conditions. Test their ability to balance multiple conversations, to improvise, and to come across as personable. Forward-thinking teams may even use messaging apps as a recruitment tool.

5. Arm agents with the tools they need

If the customer support industry seems like it’s changing faster than ever, things will only accelerate from here. If your agents aren’t staying ahead of the curve, they’re falling behind. Arm them with the tools they’ll need to keep up with ever-evolving digital support.

A partnership with a digital care platform can help. Platforms not only simplify agents’ lives, automate routine tasks, and provide analytics, but the companies that build them must stay relentlessly up-to-date. When new channels emerge, social media and messaging providers release updates, and consumer tastes change, those partners will have ready fixes.

To keep your team up-to-date, give your team the tools they need to adapt and push the onus of innovation onto your vendors.

Want to know more? Read our recently released State of Digital Care in 2018 report that lays out best practices for ensuring your brand is delivering in-the-moment resolutions, at scale, to drive profitable and lasting relationships over social and digital channels. In this report, you will understand why:

  • Over half of respondents (59%) still prefer a human resolution to that of a bot
  • 81% of respondents have higher digital care expectations today then they did a year ago
  • 63% of respondents cited a good digital care experience as very important to their brand loyalty

Read the briefing report here to help you overcome common, digital customer care challenges and become a digitally mature customer focused brand! 


Topics: Best Practices, Customer Stories

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