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Expected Channels for Millennials: 5 Social Media "Need to Knows" for Contact Centers

Social media is becoming an expected customer service channel for younger consumers. A recent Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of inContact among 2,028 U.S. adults, found that 51% of those ages 18-44 say social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are important to have for customer service while making an online purchase. Furthermore, 38% of adults ages 18-34, known as Millennials, say they use social media to make purchase decisions

Adding social media to your contact center’s multichannel mix may or may not be the right move. Here are five things to consider when considering social media.

5 Social Media “Need-to-Knows” for the Contact Center

1) Immediacy

Those in the Millennial generation or cusp of Gen X expect social to be an active communication channel. If it is out there for consumption, consumers want someone to respond to them almost immediately – almost as if they were using online chat. And, these consumers are more willing to socialize their dissatisfaction. Service experiences, good and bad, will be shared.

According to the Harris research, 59% of Millennials are likely to post a negative review online or on social sites if they have a negative customer service experience. Sixty-six percent are likely to post a positive review after a positive experience. So, if you are adding social media, make sure you and your agents are ready and able to provide quality service and standout experiences.

2) Must Have vs. Nice to Have

Companies that have a large customer base in the Millennial age range of 18-to-34 should strongly consider offering service on social media, especially B2C companies. Even if you are not promoting your brand’s social presence as a service channel, Millennial consumers are still likely to use it as such.

3) Marketing vs. Service Channel

If your company is using social solely as a marketing channel, ensure that those monitoring the channel are passing along service-related concerns, including trend and volume information. The timeliness of sharing with the contact center needs to be pretty quick. Work out the details of who is passing the information to whom, and who is responsible for responding to the customer. Determine this before you are behind the 8-ball.

If you’ve decided to add service to your company’s social media presence, add a differentiated channel. Many companies have multiple personas online. An example of useful marketing and service channels is @Delta and @DeltaAssist. I recently had a concern when my flight was cancelled. I tweeted @DeltaAssist and they immediately got back to me, telling me to check my online profile for a re-book. (My twitter handle is associated with my Delta account.) This was great because it was after midnight and my flight was at 7am. I didn’t necessarily want to talk. I tweeted, got a quick response, and my rebooking was taken care of. Delta has clear representation – they have a servicing channel and a marketing channel, and they handle them differently.

4) Handling Positive and Negative Posts

When you receive positive reviews, send out a thank you. People like to be recognized. Negative posts are OK, as long as you rectify things with your customer. But take the conversation into a private direct message (DM) outside the public eye. Once it’s resolved close the loop and then update with a public message with something like, “Glad we handled that on DM …”. Those following your brand will see that you took care of the customer. Also, never delete negative comments. If others see this they will likely jump in and add fuel to the fire. Keep in mind that social is a one-to-many channel.

5) Agent Development

Developing a team to handle social media can be a challenge. Don’t take the approach, “Hey, you are 25 or so, so we’ll put you on social.” Take precautions. For example, check out if potential agents are on Twitter. What is their interaction? Are they posting or interacting with others? And remember, a response of 140 characters is not easy, so agents handling social need to have good writing and grammar skills. Consider and train for channel-specific skill sets.

Social media as a service channel has not had the adoption rate that some anticipated five or six years ago. Being on social is a brand-by-brand and company-by-company decision. If you are not on social, I recommend monitoring it. If you have determined that you need to be on social, my advice is to get out there sooner rather than later. But be prepared. Set parameters for your social media persona, enter the channel with well-qualified agents and good QA systems in place, and be ready to make adjustments along the way.