This a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

Customer service teams are facing a dilemma that may bring back high school nostalgia – if you want to be one of the cool kids, you need to be social. But simply being present in the social scene doesn’t automatically make you hip to the digital customer. You need to talk the talk and have the latest gadgets.

In our recent report, we discuss the new reality of social customer service, and outline tools you should adopt for social workforce optimization.  Companies have all felt social flip the table – it affects their core business model because newly empowered customers have a giant bullhorn to make their feelings known. As a result, companies must incorporate social into all realms of their business, especially customer service teams.

Customers turning to social channels for service support have high expectations (I know I do). Those expectations mean you’ll need to:

1.       Understand that minimum effort exerted is always best.  Transitioning out of social and into a private channel can quickly go awry. But, due to the complexity of some issues, brand impacts, and security and privacy,this is something that you cannot always avoid.  Successful customer care teams know how to make that transition elegantly and with minimum turnover.  In fact the importance of this transition is enough to make the social channels themselves adapt. Twitter recently announced they are removing the 140 character limit from direct messages – to make the private side of Twitter more powerful to users.

2.       Make a brand promise—before you tweet, repeat with me: “I understand social customers expect immediate responses and results. I will set SLAs and stick to them.”  Customers contacting companies via social channels do not see behind the curtains. They are often unaware of the potential complexities that might exist in their questions, the current staff on hand, or the queue of posts ahead of them.  Communicate ideal response times to the customer care team and do your best to stick to them. Successful companies will develop strong forecasting models on what they can predict – peak hours, product launches, and busy seasons. These companies will also have buffers in place for things that cannot be predicted, such as your website crashing.

3.       Accept that having an around the clock social team is not always an option.  Yes, social is 24/7; there is no “off” button. But you may have to draw parallels to your other service channels.  Companies often direct phone lines to voice message during off hours.  You can do this on social too. Start and end each day by posting the upcoming hours of operations.  Similar to setting expectations internally, teams should work to set external expectations.

4.       What lives on the internet, stays on the internet. This notion is true – and many companies may shy away from social interactions, afraid of the “wild card” factor.  AD&D pros can modify the same tools and methods for monitoring quality, as they have done in the past with other service channels.  Understand the uniqueness of social interactions, such as character limits, and the tendency towards multiple exchanges.  Implement a capability that will collate all the
“back and forths” Into a threaded conversation. This will empower your social service team to empower your customers.

Let’s assume you have now dipped your toe into the social waters. Brrrrr—it’s cold isn’t it? To fully immerse your company in social care, you should explore new approaches to metrics that match the realities of social customer service:

1.       What does initial response time mean for social? Is it on an individual back and forth, or is it from the start to the end of the conversation?

2.       What is your flush rate? Some tweets and posts are non-actionable (hey haters!).  Unlike the common “abandon rate” metrics, flush rate is not a bad to have.  Spend your time focusing on the problems you actually can solve.

3.       Do you care about average close rate? This is metric common to many AD&D pros – and can be used to determine efficiency within your team.

4.       Continue measuring CX and brand promise metrics. Customer satisfaction rates on social are at higher risk from negative experiences that are socially shared. 

For a more in depth look into our recommend tools and process tips for social customer service, see the recently published report “Brief: Adapt – Don’t Scrap – Your Workforce Optimization Tools to Support Customer Service”.  Interested in a deeper dive? Book an inquiry or advisory with us.