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Lifting The Shackles of Social Customer Service – Finding the Balance

By Leslie McArdle on Jan 28, 2014 9:01:05 AM

The social customer service game is not a simple one. Now no longer a question of if, but how, we engage with customers’ issues over Facebook and Twitter, the business media is far from short of stars.


From innovative models for customer engagement and revolutionised contact centres, to new customer relationships and social tone of voice – the bar is certainly set high. Many brands want to bring some of this value to their own customers, but are just as aware of regular news on damaging social media crises. How do you strike the balance between freedom and good security?

The ideals are daunting at first, but with the right structure in place any business can make steps towards a more authentic and liberalised social customer service experience.  

Create real values for customer engagement

Genuine social interaction isn’t as simple as dropping smiley faces or slang into your responses. Spend some time thinking about the specific kind of culture and voice that’s right for your brand and your customers, and make sure that this permeates every part of your social customer service strategy. If you want customers to know that you go the extra mile, make sure your actions match your words.

Let your agents into your vision

For your agents to become effective brand ambassadors, they need to be let in on the big picture. Knowing the rapport they should build with customers can only come from a thorough understanding of brand and tone of voice decisions. Move away from one-dimensional instructions and invite your team into every part of the social customer service journey. Sharing examples of positive customer reactions and encouraging your team to work for this will make for much more authentic interactions.

Carefully select some ‘don’ts’

Although they may seem more prescriptive, a carefully selected handful of don’ts can be more conducive to freedom than guidance on how to interact. Ambiguity can often encourage team members to play it safe, but a basic list of ‘no-gos’ - from profanities to insults to text language - can provide clear parameters in which agents can roam freely.

Set up an approval workflow

The very best way to set your agents free securely is through an approval workflow. How you choose to moderate public responses, from quality control to full screening, will depend on your business and your agents’ experience. But approving conversations just before they go live allows you to take a step back from on-the-ground interaction. If you really want to offer the best social experience, this has to be between your agents and your customers. There’s no room for micromanagement in social.

Continually give feedback

If you are unable to approve an agent’s message, make sure you give reasoning every time – this way your team can learn what’s expected from their responses. Don’t stop staff development at the end of the induction, continually work with your team so that they can offer the best customer experience possible.

Each of these steps serves to not only reassure you as a manager of your brand’s security in the hands of social customer service agents, but those agents themselves. Making the switch to a new mode of interaction with customers can be a difficult one, particularly for team members coming from the traditional customer service background. Becoming a public brand ambassador is a serious responsibility to take on, and fear of making mistakes can often hold agents back from being freer with their style.

Give your team the support they need to be truly liberated, and your customers will feel the benefit.

Topics: Customer Service

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