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How to get the perfect social media team: Lessons from FedEx, Zappos, Samsung and more.

By Anna Drennan on Nov 2, 2012 5:45:00 PM

Social Media for Customer Service Summit: The Lowdown

 The Conversocial team recently attended our industry's leading event, the Social Media for Customer Service Summit. Over the following weeks, I’ll be bringing a recap for those who missed it – best practice from Zappos, FedEx, Samsung, Hilton, McDonalds, jetBlue, Verizon and more.

Find Them

A major theme for discussion at the Summit this year was hiring. An inevitable starting point; I need to get someone to do this, but who? What was notable from corporates who have been building up these teams in 2012 was the number who are delving into the contact center for social customer service staff. A quick poll of the room, of representatives from airlines to retailers to telecoms, suggested that about 75% were taking this route. It was the answer to a relatively simple question: if we think about what we’re really trying to achieve, who in our organisation is best equipped to do it?

Source: Simpliflying

It seems good customer service knowledge has become the industry-accepted standard for all leading social media strategists today. Ring Central ensures that their social media team is at least Tier 1 level savvy (where 90% of customer service queries can be handled) when it comes to customer support – something so important that Baochi Nguyen, Director of Social Strategy, has made sure she’s Tier 1 competent herself.

So access to information is clearly important but what added value does your team need to bring? For companies such as FedEx and GoDaddy, social requires their very best agents, who have demonstrated good judgement and casework - the Super Agents. The social customer service world is breaking the contact center status quo; all leading management teams today are seeking out those rising stars that demonstrate initiative, who can roll with the social media punches and seize social media opportunities.

Zappos is still pioneering the most innovative approaches to hiring a team that loves what they do. “Hire Slowly. Fire Quickly” is their motto; it’s important that the right amount of time is put into finding team members who will fit the Zappos culture (largely centered around great customer service) and who are right to engage in social media. An interview at Zappos will present you with completely out of the box questions; a favourite of the room was, “If you had a theme song, what would it be?” Previously the remit of the creative world, questions such as these might just reveal what kind of employee a candidate might be. Will they love their job, love looking after customers, and have the flair to do it well through social channels?

Teach Them

A Social customer service team needs the right training to represent your brand and support your customers all at once. Again, Zappos leads the way when it comes to thorough training. After a 4 week program, 98% of trainees are so excited to start full-time with the company, they turn down a $3000 offer to leave. Impressive stuff.

From Zappos, to FedEx, to Samsung - employee empowerment was the leading mantra for social customer care teams; a huge (and I’m sure welcome) departure for many from the rigourous structure and rules of the contact center.  America’s biggest retailers and service providers are finally investing in human capital to deliver the experience consumers want. But this doesn’t mean anarchy. For most teams, boundaries and escalation points allow agents freedom to exercise their best judgement within a non-restrictive structure. Zappos’ ultra liberal approach of “no social media policy” probably won’t be right for other organisations that aren’t founded on customer service; but it’s important to allow your team to think about what’s right for customers without having to always ask for permission.

Inspire Them

For me, perhaps the most inspiring – and entertaining – lesson from the Summit came from Tony Turnage, Customer Care Manager at FedEx. Tony demonstrated through the wonderful video below, what goes into making the FedEx team great. The FedEx ‘purple promise’ taken by every employee – to put the customer at the center of everything they do – is reinforced every single day, by inspirational management teams.


Team motivation doesn’t stop at the training program for any of these social customer service leaders. For AVG and Media Temple, instilling a passion for social customer relationships the best way to get results from their teams. And that’s achieved through education on just why they should care. Sharing insight on the great work social customer care does for your business and showing your team what they are working towards is proving extremely effective. In the Media Temple office, this is visual – with Twitter feeds and stats for all to see; it’s not just management that should reap the self-satisfaction of doing a good job. This resonated with me as something we’ve seen from our most successful customers; giving your staff a reason to work hard everyday isn’t too complex. Seeing customers happy and knowing you’re making a difference through your work is the making of a great customer care team. 

What do you look for in a social customer service agent, and how do help your staff to get there? We’re interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Part. 2 of our Recap - Advocacy Gets Social: Surprise and Delight Customer Service. Lessons from Four Seasons, GoDaddy, Samsung and General Motors!

Got any suggestion for what you’d like to hear from us? Send them over to Rachel@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas!

Topics: Best Practices, Brand Stories, Customer Service

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