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Social Media Best Practices for Customer Support

Has your company received the memo that more customers are turning to social media to address their customer service issues? If you are still treating your social media presence as an afterthought, now is a good time to reconsider what this might be doing to your brand. Social media has evolved to be more than a marketing tool.  In a 2012 Social Media report produced by Nielson, it was found that half of U.S. consumers relied on social media to ask questions, complain, and report satisfaction while one-third of social media users preferred to resolve their issues over social media rather than phoning into a contact center.

There is tremendous opportunity to provide customer care via social media sites. This new branch of customer service delivery has been coined “social care” and more customers prefer to resolve CR issues via social media than by phone. As more consumers switch to social media to try and resolve an issue, your training will need to keep pace with this new platform. It isn’t as simple as having your contact center agents answer questions on social media sites. Social care is best delivered when employees across departments are trained to engage with customers . Broadening the talent pool that interacts with customers over social media has been a successful strategy employed by a number of companies. Providing positive customer experiences is truly a team effort.

TELUS International has identified several best practices of delivering social care. Some of these include:

1.    Communicate in the appropriate style and tone for each channel. Training agents to respond in a manner that is appropriate to the brand and the communication channel will help avoid misunderstandings. There is some cross-over training that happens when teaching communication styles for live-agents and social care agents. Paying attention to proper grammar, clear responses, and concise phrasing are all important when publically delivering social care.  Any company that has dealt with an issue that went viral is well aware of the time and energy required to diffuse a social media tit-for-tat. Your best recourse to avoid such public misunderstandings is to properly train a team of social care representatives.

2.    Create a response map. Social care agents deliver customer care in a very public forum and need a readily available response map to know how to best handle different customer service issues. Such maps can minimize the risk to companies as it can provide quick guidance to social care agents who often respond to hundreds of social media posts and inquiries per shift.

3.    Follow through and follow up. Social media can be a powerful tool for customer service, marketing, and understanding what is holding your customer’s attention, but it requires a dedicated team that posts regularly and engages and collaborates with your customers. Similar to delivering excellent customer service through any channel, if your agent says they’re going to do something for a customer, it’s important they follow through. It’s not always about saying what you think a customer wants to hear, it’s about engaging with customers and providing accurate information.

4.    Quick response time. There is no middle ground when it comes to social care and a customer’s expectations regarding response time. Many customers consider social media to be another version of live-agent help, or e-mail support, so if it’s taking you 10-20 hours to respond to a customer service question then you’re likely to end up with frustrated customers. Companies that successfully deliver social care aim to respond to customers within minutes of contact. Depending on the nature of the question it is perfectly okay, and sometimes preferable, to direct a conversation to another support channel. Here again is where a response map comes in handy for social care agents.

Social media is here to stay, and when strategically approached and appropriately staffed it is a powerful and increasingly important communication channel for customers and companies. To successfully engage and collaborate with customers over social media, social care agents need to be properly trained for communicating in such a public forum. There is no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to delivering customer service on social platforms, a number of companies have successfully managed to find the right balance between customer care and social care. Following some of the above mentioned best-practices is a good place to start when it comes to customer support.