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 chapter 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.
Why Do I Need a Jointly-Owned Social Media Support Strategy?
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:
- Inconsistent Replies
When an untrained agent responds to a customer service email, he or she might end up completely overlooking what the last representative has written, and tell a customer something completely different. This is also possible for companies whose social media team comes from a single department, and who aren’t fully versed in the ins-and-outs of responding to customers as a team.
- Slow Replies
If your social media customer care is the hands of just the marketing department, then your team might not know how to respond to simple customer service queries. On the other hand, if your social media is the sole responsibility of your customer service department, then they too might not have the answers to specific marketing questions. If only one department owns this channel, you can count on slow replies, as representatives may have to reach out to a different department first for an answer before posting back.
- No Replies
The deadlier alternative to slow replies is no replies. Many companies that give control of their social media page to their marketing department do so without empowering their employees to engage with customers, or offering an engagement strategy whatsoever. The result is a social media page where personal inquiries, desperate complaints, and more comes in — but nothing goes out. Alternately, the inaction may also be due to a lack of clarity around who is responsible.
- Repetitive, Robotic, and/or Outdated Canned Messages
It’s natural that if your company has a social media customer service team that isn’t equipped with qualified customer service agents, they might fall into the habit of using canned messages. Although there is nothing wrong with canned messages themselves, canned messages that are used incorrectly, at the wrong time, or too frequently will kill any human tone that your social media page might have had, and make your brand harder to relate to.
- Clogged Queues
One common, extremely avoidable (and irritating!) symptom of social media customer service being owned by a single department is clogged queues. When a company is owned purely by Marketing (or any other department that doesn’t have the resources, expertise, or institutional support to handle customer inquiries or complaints), then that company will often respond to their customers by asking them to reach out via a different channel — usually by phone, email, or even sometimes asking customers to switch social media platforms (i.e. from Facebook to Twitter). This leads to clogged queues, frustrated customers, and customer service agents overwhelmed by unnecessary repeat contact.
- Lower Quality Service
Slow replies, clogged queues, inconsistencies, and annoyingly canned messages all have one thing in common: they don’t make for good social media customer service.
- Processes That Don’t Work Stay That Way
Imagine your company’s social media page is hit by a wave of negative comments and reviews about your product and/or service. While the customer service team that you have in place may (or may not!) be adequately equipped or trained to reach out to these customers and handle their individual complaints, not having a jointly-owned social media strategy means that your representatives are probably not well-equipped enough to form a plan to prevent this from occurring again.
- Lower Retention Rates
You heard right: By 2020, Customer Experience is expected to overtake price and product quality as what makes your brand stand up from the crowd. Social media customer service that is owned by a single department often leads to unsatisfied customers, which your company will feel in its pocket.
- Undynamic Customer Outreach
If your social media customer care team is only going to be good at one thing: why bother? After all, you want your company to be the best at what it does — why not extend the quality you strive for all throughout your service, and all the way to social media? When your company’s social media is owned by only one department, it falls flat and short of what you, as a brand, want your online customers to remember you by.
Doesn’t sound like that’s for you? Congrats! Companies with a jointly-owned social media customer service strategy enjoy the following benefits:
- First Contact Resolution
When your social media support is jointly-owned, customers can rest assured that someone on your social media customer support team is equipped to handle their question, problem or complaint. With a dedicated customer service staff working alongside marketing, IT, sales, and more, customer issues can be handled at once, without any annoying transfers. That takes pressure off the contact lines for the rest of the customer service department and allows social media to act as a true support channel.
- Cost-Effective Help
When your customers aren’t calling in, your company is saving time and money. According to McKinsey, handling an inbound telephone call typically costs a company $6 to $8, whereas an interaction using social media costs less than a dollar. Social media can work just as well as call centers to upsell products or capture service-to-sales opportunities, and in this respect, it offers additional opportunities that aren’t possible via traditional phone calls. Imagine if you were standing next to two customers who were having a laugh trash-talking the competition: you might chime in and laugh alongside them, or maybe even offer your company’s services instead as a helpful tip. On social media, this is not only possible — it is a common practice for companies who have an effective jointly-owned customer service strategy and an engaged, empowered team.
- Give Your Customers More Accurate Help
When several of your departments own social media together, they are working together to give your customers what they need. With different heads in the mix, you can draw on the expertise of multiple teams and give your customers more accurate help. Additionally, since your jointly-owned social media support team will be empowered to help your customers online, they will be able to “push” links to customers in need, guiding customers to relevant content and/or videos that are more accurate and concise than support that they would have been given over the phone. Should your agents have to call a customer to help with a more complicated issue, a social media support team member will have all the resources needed to reach out to that customer, instead of making them call you.
- Get Faster, More Convenient Support to Customers
Before Hertz shifted from a marketing-centered social media strategy to a jointly-owned system in 2014, the marketing department had control over the company’s social media accounts. In an article from the Harvard Business Review, social media and digital marketing expert Keith Quesenberry tells us the story: