The most important step for a company to start scaling their social customer service efforts is the set up of their social customer service team.
In almost all cases, the best way to do this is to set up a team within your call centre or customer service centre, often hiring internally from your other customer service teams. But who should you hire? Do they need to be social media experts? Amazing at email? Great phone operators? And, once you've got them, how do you train them?
At the Social Media for Customer Service Summit in New York last month, we met with many exceptional companies who are leading the pack at social customer service. One of the speakers was Tony Turnage from FedEx, who shared some great advice on how to hire and manage your social media agents. His tips:
1. Recruit the Exceptional
Look for customer centric, social media savvy agents with great writing and phone skills. Agents who've proven themselves and get high quality scores in traditional channels.
2. Manage Risk
Have best practice guidelines that go beyond just the individual tweet. Ensure collaboration between all stakeholders - customer service and marketing need to work together. His core guiding princinple for agents is that at all times exercise good judgement: ensure you don't embarrass the brand, and don't embarrass yourself.
Be constantly evolving and learning. Social norms change, and tone of voice is important. People expect a friendlier, less formal and corporate voice in Facebook and Twitter - but the level of this depends on your brand. What tone and words are most suitable for you? This is a new area, so you'll need to experiment and learn what works best.
4. Get outside training for basic social media etiquette
If you don't already have high social media knowledge inside the organization, it can be easy to make mistakes. Get outside training first, and then you can develop your own training as you increase your internal expertise. Learn from the mistakes of others - a lot of companies have jumped in and made elementary mistakes.
We've seen different companies take different approaches. But one constant is that as long as the agent has good writing skills, and cares about the customer, they can be trained in social media norms and etiquette - you don't need to start with social media whizzkids.
What do you think are the core requirements for a social media agent?
Follow us on Twitter here.
Also in this series - "When do you need to take conversations off social?"