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Hiring and Training Your Social Customer Service Team

Marie Rose
By Marie Rose on Aug 10, 2012 2:52:00 PM

Bitesize - The Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service: Part 7/10

Here's part seven from the series of bitesize posts from our 'Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service', a practical handbook for executing a Social Customer Service program from the ground up. You can download the guide in full 

Once you’ve laid out all the positions for your Social Dream Team it’s time to start recruiting your social agents. What are some of the key things to ensure you have the best team and train them in the best way? It’s essential that every agent is fully prepared to start working with social customers.

Recruit a Team with the Right Skills

It’s essential that social agents have a strong customer service history - they should be your top agents. Many of our customers start their social team with their executive or VIP service agents. They need a high level of written communication skills to message customers in the most clear and concise way possible - sometimes with limited characters, and in a public forum. A thorough knowledge of social platforms is useful, although our experience shows that it can be taught to good agents.

Create Training Documents with Dos and Don’ts

As a company, it’s important to formulate some clear, basic rules for your social media team to follow.  Getting the tone of voice right for responding publicly on Facebook or Twitter, on behalf of your brand, can be a big challenge. Marketing and social media teams need to give significant input. How chatty or informal do you want to be? Should you use abbreviations (eg “lol”) or not? To start with, create examples of recommended phrases that agents can integrate into their responses. Once the agents become more comfortable delivering social customer service they can begin to make their own tweaks on the phrases to make it more personal. Along the way, team leaders should be paying careful attention to proposed responses by agents to check for tone of voice. Don’t forget to point out things that agents should avoid saying. By making these clear, there won’t be any uncertainty when crafting responses.

Provide Template Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

To save your team time, have some template responses to basic questions, in order to cut down on the amount of time spent constantly formulating the same answers. In turn, this will increase the number of messages that can be dealt with, and it helps to establish policies for handling specific issues. However, it’s important not to compromise the opportunity to tailor responses for each query just to get a head start on more messages.

Exercise: Paper Responses

When you’re first getting started (or with a new team of agents), a useful way of training agents to respond with the correct tone of voice is to do a ‘paper exercise’. Collect real questions and complaints that have been coming in to your company’s Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and ask agents to write their proposed responses. You can work with them to correct their wording and tone without any risk to customers. This is also a great way of building up the trust for senior management and marketing teams who are worried about handing over the front line of responses to customer service.

Putting It Into Practice: Best Buy

Electronics company Best Buy recruit their social customer service team through a very specific method. Each agent must have a minimum of six months internal customer service experience. Team members must also complete several training courses before they can become full agents, including four weeks of consumer relations training, and two weeks of social training. Best Buy believes that all of these qualifications are necessary for social customer service agents to fully understand the platform they’ll be working with.

There are many things to consider when a company puts their social customer service team in place. It’s important for the team to be competent, prepared and comfortable in order for customer service to run smoothly on social media. By selecting agents with a strong set of skills and completely preparing them for the work they will be doing, your social customer service team is sure to shine.

Missed the last Bitesize post on Developing a Coordinated Social Engagement Strategy? Check out Part 6/10. Or, move to Part 8/10 on Approval, Escalation and Response Maps.

How do you think a company should prepare a newly established social customer service team? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

Topics: Customer Service

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