Getting Started with Social Support


In the past I have talked about some of the challenges for social media customer service programs, such as scalability, maintaining stakeholder support and defining accepted success measures.  These challenges will always exist, and a program manager will constantly be reviewing and modifying how they manage the volume of social conversation, roll-up their key performance indicators and share results with their internal stakeholders.

Recognizing these challenges, how does an organization get started with social support?  I am often asked for guidance or for a pseudo Getting Started with Social Support by people looking to formalize their customer service efforts in social media.  While my advice would depend on their social strategy, the size of their organization and current resources, among many other factors, there are some things you should consider before launching a social customer service program.

Asking the Right Questions for Your Social Support Program

  • Set Your Vision – Your overarching strategy for your social support team must be set out first.  What do you aspire to do?  How do you win?  Who is your audience?  Where do you play and what do you own (internally and externally)?  Who needs to be involved, be consulted and approve your plans?
  • Staffing Plan – How will you resource your support team?  Will it live in your contact center?  Will the reps be dedicated to social media, or will you train a set group that will go between phone, chat and social?  Will you allow outsourced reps to be part of the team?  How will you know when you need to add headcount?  What skills do your social reps need?
  • Escalation Processes – Identifying necessary processes up front can allow your team to run smoothly and efficiently.  Consider what your social support team will do with feedback when a major issue arises, when media or journalists reach out and when the support question is more than they can handle.  Can they troubleshoot via social channels?  How about when they get a complaint?  A compliment?  The step-by-step details you need will depend on your business.
  • Define Success Measures – By setting your vision and strategy upfront, you should know what it means to win for your program so you can determine success measures.  Is winning driving customer satisfaction?  Decreasing operations costs?  Increasing customer retention?  If your team sits in customer support, are there KPIs for your reps that need to align to the rest of the organization?  Will you have a scorecard?  And how will the measures help you drive your business and change?
  • Content and Self-Service – It can be a challenge to answer every question in a short and sweet manner (say in 140 characters), so having a lot of support content to point customers to is very important.  Where is your content housed?  Is it mobile?  Are there gaps?  How can you work with content teams to keep it up-to-date?  Also consider your branded communities and how it will play a role in your social support program.  How will you leverage your community for user-generated content?
  • Guidelines, Training and Best Practices – Setting the stage with guidelines, proper training and solid best practices for your team can ensure you are offering quality customer service with fewer risks.  Does your organization have existing social media guidelines?  What specific support training will your reps require before getting started?  What best practices do you need your team to follow?  Service levels?  How do you safely manage properties and passwords (and avoid accidental personal tweets on official channels)?  What is the expected tone of messages posted by reps?  What does quality look like?
  • Property Plan – Depending on your resources, hours of operation, currently owned properties and planned service level agreements, you will want to consider how many social channels you can effectively manage.  Where are your customers asking questions already?  How will you engage on the property as a brand or individual?  Does the channel allow private messaging, and when will you respond publicly versus privately?
  • Identify Tools – While you can use free tools or native applications, depending on the quantity of customer engagements, the size of your team and the success measures and KPIs you have settled on may require something more robust.  Is there an existing technology being used by other teams?  What requirements have you identified for tools, considering your processes, guidelines and best practices?  What do you need to track or measure?

I don’t expect this to be an exhaustive list, but it is a good start as you begin formalizing your social customer service program.  You may also want to check out Conversocial’s Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service and Lithium’s white paper The Changing Dynamics of Customer Care.

Reprinted by permission.


About the author: Michelle Kostya

Michelle Kostya is Senior Manager for Social Media Enablement at Rogers Communications.  In this role, Michelle works to provide guidelines, best practices and a framework for measurement and social media insights for the company. In her previous role as Program Manager for Social Media Support for BlackBerry, she was central in setting the road map and direction for social customer service.  While at Research In Motion, Michelle initiated and rolled out a social media support team providing help to customers on Twitter (@BlackBerryHelp) and jump-started the BlackBerry Community Support Forums by engaging with community members.  Michelle’s background in customer service, marketing and product management provides her with a unique perspective on social media in business.

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