launching a social media customer service program

9 Steps for Launching a Successful Social Media Customer Service Program

The contact center industry has officially entered the next evolution of customer engagement and many are on a mission to figure out how best to implement these new and emerging technologies to service our digital customers. Here are 9 easy steps for launching or advancing your social media customer service program.

Step 1 – Recruiting the Right Talent

When recruiting for the position of “Social Media Customer Service Representative” it is important to look for talent that is proficient in English, typing, spelling, and grammar. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate strong written and oral communication skills because every post they respond to will ultimately live online forever and be representative of the brand. The individual must possess strong analytical skills in order to decide which conversations are appropriate to jump into and which ones should be avoided. The candidate must also leverage social media personally and represent themselves in a positive and professional manner. To find the perfect Social Media Customer Service Representative, first look at your existing call center agents and search for someone who is tech-savvy and more tenured. These employees will already have the product knowledge needed, and will only have to be trained on the social media tool and the monitoring, engaging, and QA processes. In addition, reach out to the Social Media Club in your city, as well as social media marketing professors at local colleges in your area.

Step 2 – Establishing a SocialCRM Training Program

When created a SocialCRM Training Program it’s important to include an array of content delivery methods including instructor led classroom discussions, computer based modules, individual (self-paced) and group activities or assignments, and live environment mentoring sessions. Typically, if the new employee is recruited from outside of the organization they will need to go through the traditional customer service training already in place for the contact center to learn about the product or service, the escalation procedures, contact dispositions, typical responses, and existing CRM and knowledge base tools. Once that is complete, they should move on to one to two weeks of social media customer service training which will review topics such as processes, procedures, etiquette, and legal compliance. Lastly, new recruits should have hands on training, with close mentoring as they learn how to navigate the monitoring and engaging software platform.

Step 3 – Choosing a Monitoring Tool, Setting up a Process

One of the hardest parts of launching a social media customer service strategy is choosing a monitoring and engagement tool. There are many hundreds of tools on the market some free and some paid. When deciding which one is best suited for your organization, be sure to look into the number of web 2.0 sites that it crawls, how the software filters spam, post assignment and tagging, on the fly searches, reporting, dashboards, and analytics. Once you find a tool that fits your organizations needs and budget, then the next step is launch an implementation plan and monitoring process. The following is a short list to consider.

  • Monitoring Platform Set Up – This begins with a review of desired goals and objectives of the program. From there work with your software account manager to develop folders (categories), tagging usage, and basic searches to collect the most relevant social media content for the program.
  • Keyword Analysis – Include keywords such as brand and product names, but also be sure to use Boolean logic and add quotation marks and plus symbols to pull the most relevant content. For example, try “brand + hate” or “brand + love” or even “brand + competitor”.
  • Profile Set Up – Make sure all agent profiles are set up in a transparent manner than shows the customer they are officially representing the brand with a title such as “Lauren_BrandCustSrv”.

Step 4 – Establish a Monitoring & Engagement Process

When trying to determine which conversations to engage and which ones to avoid, create a monitoring process or guide that offers industry best practices for knowing how best to address each conversation in the proper manner. The agents can then use the guide when deciding whether or not to jump in and respond to the post after closely evaluated the anticipated risk and reward associated. Things to consider when determining whether to respond to a post include: the date of the post, how influential the author is, the credibility of the website where the post is found, and the post topic itself.  Lastly, when prioritizing posts, all company sponsored Facebook or Twitter pages need to get a higher priority than say a random blog. The reason is that the customer is expecting a prompt response from the company.

After the decision to engage has been made, the SocialCRM rep should categorize each post to make it easier for reporting and analysis. The tags should include: actionable/non-actionable; type of post; sentiment; post topic; post sub-topic; and whether the post should be taken offline.

Step 5 – Launch a Quality Assurance Process

The Quality Assurance team should be scoring each engagement. The following items need to be analyzed when reviewing each post and agent response:

  • Greeting – Was the agent transparent and introduced themselves as the official customer service team for the brand? Was the conversation appropriate to jump into and address based on the forum and tone of the customer?
  • Body – Was an apology offered? Was the agent sincere and display empathy that was recognized by the customer? Was the situation rectified? Did the agent clarify any facts in the post; if so were the facts accurate? Did the agent take the conversation offline to gather personal information or offer a comp? Did the agent update the CRM system correctly?
  • Close – Did the agent properly address the customers concern or issue before closing the conversation?
  • Tracking – Did the agent use appropriate tags/ notes in the conversation record? What was the average response time? What was the average conversation time?
  • Escalation – If conversation was escalated to the client, did the agent follow the correct procedures? Did the agent check in with client or team member to make sure the customer was followed up in a timely manner?
  • Spelling / Grammar – Was spelling correct and proper grammar used?
  • Follow up – Was the customer surveyed afterwards to gauge NPS & customer loyalty? Did the customer say something positive about the brand after working with our team?

Step 6 – Measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Measuring efficiency is something the contact center industry knows how to do and do very well. However, many contact centers are still struggling with how best to measure the success of its social media customer service program in an effort to prove to its executive team that there is real ROI. Simply stating the number of posts responded to is not going to cut it in our “do more with less” economy.  Here are some metrics that should be measured and analyzed on a monthly or weekly basis:

  • Response time – by channel (Facebook, Twitter, Blog)
  • Response rate – by team and advocate
  • Time to resolution – social media vs. contact center
  • Referral rate – NPS surveys
  • Total Impressions – for each response
  • Customer retention rate – How many saved relationships?
  • Purchase rate – How many customers made a purchase as a result of SMCS? 

Step 7 – Trending Digital Conversations

When customers are mentioning your brand online, companies should be trending those conversations to find the consistent topics. For example, are consumers talking about billing, repairs, warranties, orders, or product suggestions? Make note of these themes and then work to analyze the sentiment of each. Are you finding that out of the 500 customers who were talking about your billing process, 90% were negative posts?  If that’s the case, now the organization knows it needs to take another look at the billing procedures in place and work to fix any major issues.

Step 8 – Pursue WOW

In today’s “reputation economy” C-SAT has become a metric of the past and customer loyalty has become the new focus. The reason? Today, it’s no longer enough to just satisfy a customer. Satisfaction means mediocre. No one remembers or shares their mediocre experience they had with customer service. Instead, the new focus for customer service teams is to make sure the customer is WOWed with each engagement. WOW means surpassing expectations, and positively changing the way the customer perceives the brand. At the end of the day, these WOW experiences with customer service become memorable and story-worthy. Stories are powerful today because they end up being shared with hundreds of peers on social networking sites, and are deemed more credible and trustworthy in comparison to traditional advertising.  In order to deliver off the charts, remarkable, WOW customer service it will be critical for contact centers to start empowering customer service reps to come up with creative, out of the box ideas that WOW customers, and go beyond just offering a gift card. In addition to empowerment, there will need to be a greater investment in agent training and coaching in the coming year.

9 – Making the Decision to Outsource

If your contact center already has the resources needed internally, along with a customer service professional that has enough social media knowledge to become a champion of the project then you may want to consider doing this in house. However, the reality our industry faces is that right now usually the person with the most experience resides in marketing or pr. These departments can do a great marketing the organization on social media, but do not have the customer service background to be addressing complaints, issues, or questions.

When deciding who to outsource the social media customer service program, be very cautious. There are a lot of entities that claim they “do social media’, when in reality all they may do is set up Facebook and Twitter pages and push out one-way messages to consumers. Make sure you ask the prospective vendor how many years they have been doing customer service; what qualifications they use when recruiting reps; what their monitoring, engaging, and QA process look likes; what metrics they measure success by; and how they trend digital conversations in an effort to provide the very best customer experience?

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