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6 Questions to Answer Before Building a Social Care Team

October 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

As a brand, you’ve established a great marketing and engagement program on social, aiming to delight customers and boost brand awareness by sharing great content and replying with your wittiest remarks. But you’ve also discovered that your customers are starting to leverage social to get their questions answered and concerns heard, and now you need to dedicate someone to social customer care.

According to a 2013 study by Dimensional Research, more than 50% of Twitter users have used social media for service, and that number will continue to grow. Here are six questions you need to answer to build a great team.

1. Where Will They Sit?

While social has traditionally been owned by Marketing or PR, it’s important to leverage the contact center’s core competencies of infrastructure, knowledge and customer focus to stand up an effective team. However, not all contact center groups are created equal, so it’s important to consider the nature of social and why customers use that channel over traditional channels. From my experience, social media is a place where customers vent and is a channel they turn to after they’ve been transferred five times, put on hold for an hour, and still haven’t gotten a resolution, so it’s important to select a group that is able to handle a wide variety of escalated issues and resolve them quickly. Considering that 30% of people will share a bad experience on social, it’s important to make sure your team is equipped to handle 90% of complaints themselves.

Start with your highest tier group, normally Executive Customer Relations or Office of the President, to see if they can dedicate one or two agents to social.

2. How to Do They Interact with Other Social Teams?

Customer service in social does not happen in a vacuum, so it’s important to work closely with counterparts in Corporate Communications and Marketing to outline guidelines for what each group will handle. For example, who will handle crisis monitoring and escalation? This all depends who knows the proper policies and procedures and who can provide the most coverage, but it could sit in any social group.

Regardless of how you split roles and responsibilities, it’s very important that Care has an equal seat at the table. Customers do not see social as a marketing only channel, and neither should you. Plus, having the other teams in your corner helps everyone produce a better social presence!

3. How Do You Structure the Team?

If your social care volume doesn’t justify a separate team, integrating it with your existing Executive Customer Relations department is OK, as long as resources such as reporting, process, and training are shared. If you do decide you need a separate team, it’s important to have a unit manager (supervisor) who handles day-to-day requests, scheduling, and QA; social agents, who monitor and respond to customer service issues; and a data analyst who can provide reporting.

4. What Skills Do My Social Agents Need?

Any member of the social care team is also now a de-facto spokesperson for the company, so a mix of customer service, writing, and soft skills are needed. The most important traits I’ve heard from social care managers are:
• Passionate about Customer Experience – Do they really care about making things right for customers?
• Problem Solvers – Will an agent be able to solve the complex issues that come through social?
• Great Judgment – Will an agent be able to determine when to and not to respond to sensitive issues?
• Excellent Written Communication – Is the agent able to craft replies in a conversational, non-scripted way?
• Multi-taskers – Can the agent juggle multiple issues at once and partner with others within your organization to get the problem resolved?

5. What Training Do They Need?

Because you’re working with the best of the best within your contact center organization, traditional call center training is not needed. However, here are three areas where training is necessary:
• Human Voice
o All social media interactions are non-scripted, so it’s important your agents not ‘speak’ like robots. Human voice training teaches them how to write conversationally with a little humor thrown in.
o This is also a place where you can discuss when and when not to engage with a customer.
• PR Training
o Even if this group is not responsible for crisis monitoring or media relations, it’s important for them to be familiar with your brand’s PR policies.
o If this group will be responsible for crisis monitoring, PR can train them on identifying escalation trigger points and terms
• Tool Training
o It’s important to dedicate at least a day and a half to social engagement tool training where agents are shown workflow paths, symptom code tagging, approval tagging and how to reply to customers.

6. How Do I Measure Success?

Success within social care can be achieved through four key success factors: presence, speed, perception, and impact. You can leverage a mix of traditional call center performance metrics and marketing metrics to achieve this.
• Presence – Measures whether you’re present where your customers are.
• Presence – Measures whether you’re present where your customers are.
o KPI – # Channels Serviced
• Speed – Measures how quickly you’re responding to and resolving issues.
o KPI – Initial Response Time
• Perception – Measures how customers perceive you.
o KPI – Customer Satisfaction
• Impact – Measures how many issues you’re actually resolving.
o KPI – Call deflection

Having an effective social care team will not only help your customers, but it will also help your brand. Customers will recognize and appreciate that you’ll be there for both the good and bad times.


About the author

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Carla Saavedra Kochalski leads the Social Media Insights and Care Team at Capital One, where she is responsible for building out the bank’s enterprise social customer listening and servicing strategies, including @AskCapitalOne. Her team supports the enterprise in executing social listening, risk mitigation and care efforts with partners across the business.

Prior to joining Capital One, Carla was at Samsung Mobile USA, where she launched their first social servicing and listening team in 2010 turning it into a large-scale team that served more than 31 million fans and followers on social. In her spare time, she enjoys tweeting about social, technological and fashion innovation.

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