When organizations look at social media as a communication channel with outbound elements (engagement related to brand building, marketing, and PR) and inbound elements (customer-generated support requests, information requests, and service issues), it is clear that your customer care team has a role to play in managing the channel. Can you leverage your outsourced call center team to increase efficiency, maximize cost-effectiveness, and build loyalty through mind-blowing responsiveness in the social media customer care channel? We say: absolutely.
Here are five measurable, value-added benefits your company can get from putting social support in the hands of your contact center team:
- Improved Response Times and Extended Coverage. Social media customer care is all about real time interactions or near real time interactions. If you have social media professionals monitoring your social media mentions and responding to issues in a timely manner from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday – well, no matter how good they are, they are only wowing your customers for 40 hours a week. Moving responsibility for monitoring, tagging, and resolving “inbound” service issues to your contact center team can efficiently and cost-effectively extend your social media hours of operation while improving your response time for customer service issues.
- Resources are appropriately matched to tasks. When your macros, tagging protocol, and reports have been well designed by a social media strategist or director, your agents can quickly and easily learn to monitor, tag, and distribute mentions. This is routine work that requires someone to use process and training to make intelligent decisions – as your agents do for you every day in other channels. Putting this repetitive work in the hands of your contact center team frees up those high value social media professionals to focus on engagement, planning, and strategy.
- The experts are on the frontline. Chances are your social media director and community managers are experts in social media, PR, and marketing – not experts in customer service. When it comes to handling service related issues and inquiries, your contact center team are the experts. They are likely going to end up handling the issue anyway. Either your social media community manager monitors the tweet, tags it, then gets in touch with a customer service agent who provides the answer back to the community manager who then replies to the tweet. Or your contact center agent monitors, tags, and responds using the same issue resolution process they apply in other channels. One of those options makes more sense than the other. For some of our clients, we divide responsibility like this: the contact center team handles inbound customer care issues only. If they would handle the question or complaint or service request by phone or email, they handle it in social media. Everything else gets tagged and distributed to the appropriate expert within the organization – like PR, marketing, legal, product development, or transportation.
- Scalability goes hand in hand with productivity. Contact center workforce managers are experts at forecasting and scheduling. When you add social into your channel mix, your contact center team can help you establish SLAs that give the best customer experience/response time, while taking advantage of the productivity efficiencies inherent in a multi-skilled agent pool. As with any other channel, as volume in your social channel grows, your contact center team can easily grow with it.
- Flexibility in a crisis. When it comes to flexibility, your contact center team should be nimble enough to be able to respond to unpredicted spikes in volume. (If they’re not, we should talk.) This can be a huge advantage when a crisis hits – especially if your contact center is part of the social media solution. During Hurricane Sandy last year, one of our eComm grocery clients found themselves underwater. Literally, their offices and warehouse were under water in Long Island. Our client was evacuated from their offices, 60% of their delivery fleet was destroyed, and their servers in Manhattan were flooded. Meanwhile, thousands of their customers had been evacuated and/or were without power, phones, or Internet for days. In this crisis, social media (accessed by and large from mobile phones) was a primary platform to proactively communicate delivery interruptions/service restoration to customers and to answer questions and resolve issues for individual customers whenever possible. Our team quickly deployed resources to handle volume in all channels that exceeded 300% of forecast for several days. The work our team did in social media in collaboration with the client’s own social media team earned the company praise from Mayor Michael Bloomberg for excellence in communication during Hurricane Sandy.
Who owns social media in your organization? Did social media customer care evolve as a wing of your PR or marketing teams? Or do you have a social media department with responsibility for all interactions within the channel? Today, according to Nielsen’s Social Media Report, 47% of social media users are using the medium as a primary channel to access customer service. The customer service landscape is changing with unprecedented speed. Is your organizational landscape changing to meet it? If you’d like to learn more about how we are helping our clients set new standards in social media customer care, get in touch. We’d love to talk.