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Social Customer Service - Where Should It Come From?

By Anna Drennan on Jul 25, 2012 2:09:00 PM

A Social Customer Service team needs a brand new combination of skills and knowledge, that you probably don’t already have in your company. These brand ambassadors need a deep understanding of how social networks are used and advanced written communication skills, but also all the skills and knowledge of your customer service staff.

Where do I find people like this?

Unfortunately, they usually can’t just be found. They need to be moulded. Typically, a social team starts out in the marketing department, and a community manager or two might be hired to handle community engagement. But when you reach the point of doing serious customer service through social media, this team faces some changes. Customer Service isn’t part of your team, in fact you might not know anyone in that department, and it’s potentially in an entirely different location. What do you do?

Look for the transferrable knowledge:

  1. You won’t find it in Customer Service. If you want your social customer service machine to be efficient, it doesn’t make sense to try and bring a whole world of knowledge into a department where it doesn’t belong.
  2. Customer Service representatives can be trained! Yes, social engagement requires a different style of communication, but this direction for a knowledge transfer is much more achievable.

How can I get there?

Of course, for the vast majority of companies, the movement of social media into the contact centre is a gradual progression, and there are ways to ease in new levels of cooperation.

  • Get a representative. Whether they come from the marketing or customer service department, make this individual your bridge between teams. A social media executive or community manager needs complete access to customer service information resources and a customer service agent needs complete training and integration into social programs.
  • And what about any existing social team? They are an important vehicle for training social customer service agents. But to keep developing your service offering through social media, they should be able to offer complete service, which means the learning process is two way. Your customer service department actually has a lot to teach marketers about routes to customer satisfaction, such as issue resolution
  • While your community managers deal with general engagement and FAQs, specific customer service enquiries can be handled by a trained Customer Service representative alongside. This requires the right software to distribute the workload efficiently.
  • If you create a dedicated social team in the customer service department, then this can grow with your customers’ demand, rather than trying to roll out social engagement full-scale to the contact centre.

The location of your social customer service team isn’t what’s important - what really counts is that it is fully aligned with existing customer service processes. The next step, and the holy grail for all CRM is a single view of the customer. For social customer service to be true service, it can’t exist in a silo. Yes it has unique requirements, and so the recruiting process becomes a bit more complex, but if companies are to move with consumer-set trends, it’s Customer Service that will be at the frontline of social networks.


How is your social customer service team organised? We’re interested to hear your experiences and 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.

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