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Once you decide to engage in social media customer service, the next step is coming up with an effective strategy for implementing it. You know the “what” and they “why” of social media support, but who within your company should be the one to own this new platform? Should it be customer service? Marketing? PR? Sales? IT?
If you want a well-rounded, capable, and effective social media customer care team, then the answer is all of the above. Whether you are starting from scratch or hoping to maximize the quality and effectiveness of your current social media outreach, a jointly-owned social media department is the way to go.
This blog post will show you what makes a jointly-owned social media customer service strategy so necessary, and will walk you through how to implement one yourself. By learning these benefits and following the simple steps we’ve laid out for you, your newest support channel will be a hit – not a miss.
Companies often fall into the trap of giving control of social media over to one department – usually Marketing.
On first thought, it seems to make perfect sense – in a world that’s increasingly virtual, social media is an excellent place to develop and implement new marketing schemes that will attract all kinds of customers to your product.
Unfortunately, however, it isn’t that simple. Companies that fall into this mindset overlook the reason that social media exists in the first place – to give people a platform where they can communicate, connect, and engage with people (and companies!), no matter their distance.
An effective social media team shouldn’t just push promotions and advertisements (although those are great and a normal part of social media outreach); they should also answer product questions, address concerns, and help customers when they need it.
A jointly-owned social media support strategy is one where the control of social media isn’t given over to a single department – rather, the company comes up with a social media task force that multiple departments contribute to, or “own” at once. This allows for a well-rounded social media presence, more effective customer service, and a great image for your brand.
Companies without a jointly-owned social media support strategy often suffer in the following ways:
Doesn’t sound like that’s for you? Congrats! Companies with a jointly-owned social media customer service strategy enjoy the following benefits:
This means that 79% of companies still have single-department ownership of their social media channel. That leaves a lot of room for you to develop your jointly-owned social media customer service strategy miles ahead of the bulk of the competition. And as for the 21% of companies who already have a jointly owned strategy – once you join them, you will be making your social media customer care the best it can be. And from there, you can beat them, too!
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When adopting a jointly-owned social media customer service strategy, the first step is to analyze your existing team structure, costs, and approach to social marketing. This will provide you with a better understanding of how your business can move toward channel-less (or omnichannel) social media support.
Maybe it’s your first time using social media as a customer service platform, and you’re starting from scratch. Maybe you already have a social media support team, but it’s run exclusively by Marketing or PR. In this first step, start to get a feel for how your operation is going, and where your business could take it. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
Sharing responsibility or social media customer care between departments isn’t an issue – however, organizing it can be. After you analyze your current team structures, organize your information to find a practical and cost-effective starting point. Consider writing down your company’s budget, an estimation of hiring costs (for your 24/7 social media team or for anyone that you might need to hire to replace staff who are going to be spending more time working on social media than in their old assignments), and names of responsible individuals who would do well on a social media team. Being organized will also help you down the line, as you develop training protocol, implement shared responsibilities and create a feedback loop.
The next step is to put together a team that can address all areas of social media customer service efficiently and effectively. Identify qualified individuals from your marketing, customer service, PR, sales, and IT teams, or from any combination of departments that will be best suited for the task.
What kinds of people should you bring aboard? In recalling one case study of an effective transition to a jointly-owned social media support system, McKinsey says that the team members chosen for this role needed to have “deep product experience, excellent writing skills, and the ability to act as strong customer advocates.” See to it that yours do, too!
Once you have your team picked out, it’s time for you to define your expectations. Depending on who is doing what on your team, some members may be full-time teammates; others, like IT, may be part of the team, but may not be required to participate in most everyday customer concerns.
It’s up to you to decide which teammates are expected to dedicate themselves fully to social media customer service, versus which ones will be taking care of some of their usual tasks as well. Should some of your social media task force continue to take care of their previous responsibilities, make sure that you emphasize that social media support is the priority. Social media is a public platform, and you want every team member available to contribute to situations as necessary.
Preserve the roles of your team and assign specific responsibility for certain types of communications over social media. Do you expect your team to just reply to direct wall posts and things your company is tagged in? Or should they proactively search for comments about your company (and competition) and get more involved in the conversation?
Should you have a remote team, make sure that hours are clear, and – should you have a 24/7 social media response team – that schedules don’t leave any gap of time where customers will go without a response.
Create brand guidelines for standards, tone, and style of social media communication (Does your brand have a sense of humor? Can you use emojis? Will your agents initial after every message, or act as if they are the brand talking?). Ask legal and human resources to provide a list of do’s and don’ts for real-time consumer engagement. You should also establish rules for data protection, to ensure your customers’ security. What account-specific info can be given online? What information needs to be checked before information can be disclosed? When should agents switch from public posts to direct messaging? And when should direct messaging be escalated to a phone call?
Once you have your guidelines, it’s time to give your team social media-specific training. Coach your staff through effective communication practices, to make sure that everyone in the team is on the same page. Marketing experts should make sure that social media knows of any ongoing promotions, etc. for smooth sailing and easy resolution of customer issues. In McKinsey’s case study, agents were trained both on the technical side of social media and on compliance (such as the kind of information appropriate to share in a public channel and when to take a conversation private, either through private digital channels, such as direct messaging on Twitter or e-mail, or through a phone call).
Make sure that all computers are set up, and that your team has any necessary passwords and permissions to do their job. Don’t forget to set up social media accounts if you haven’t already, and give employees access to social media systems. For easy, organized engagement, be sure to download and implement your software for monitoring social media conversations. It may also be necessary to set up live chat or a similar software to allow communication amongst your staff – this is especially important if members of your social media customer service team are not all in the same room together.
Empower your social media customer support staff to take care of as much as they can online via posts or direct messages. Give them as much leeway as possible to help your customers reach satisfactory solutions.
Define specific goals based on key performance indicators, and make these unique to social media. What social media response rate are you going to aim for? How engaged do you want your customers to be? How many positive comments should you receive for each negative one? How many times have your posts been viewed, liked, or shared, and what numbers are you aiming for? Come up with tangible, number-based goals, and use them to track and improve your performance.
Make sure that you are constantly communicating with your new team. Do they feel prepared to tackle anything? Is there anything they need more training on? Is there any process that can be improved?
Work on establishing a practical system for turning social media feedback into tangible improvements – since multiple departments are in this together, this should be easier than ever! Keep encouraging all members of your team to work together, communicate with one another, and report through the proper channels, and watch your new social media customer service strategy do its magic.
Having a jointly-owned social media customer service strategy isn’t the only thing you need for your company’s social media to go above and beyond. It is, however, a necessary part of this process.
With your jointly-owned social media customer support strategy, you will have effective, capable agents, a feedback loop that works, and – most importantly – a better, more fluid online relationship with your customers than you ever thought possible.
Want more reading? Check out our blog post 9 Effective Tips for Customer Service on Social Media to learn how else you can satisfy your customers today.
Social media customer service attains increasing popularity. This guide provides you with every possible consideration for your social media customer service, whether you’re setting up a brand new social media channel for the first time, or if you’d simply like to brush up on your existing social media customer service.Download now