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February 27, 2017

Social Customer Service – A completely different animal (associate)?

By michaelpace on June 12, 2011

Social Customer Service Team

For the last 30 years, traditional customer service recruiting, training, core skills and performance management have not changed dramatically.   Service professionals and their management teams have been able to hone the delivery of customer needs through various channels.  But are the same attributes that make a great traditional customer service representative applicable for Social Customer Service?

Traditional customer channels & attributes:

Attributes of Social Customer Service

But are these the same attributes needed for superior social customer service?  Let’s look at responsibilities & qualifications of a social customer service representative.

Responsibilities:

  • Monitor social media outlets/networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs.) for customer service related inquiries, complaints, concerns
  • Organize customer service inquiries, concerns, and responses for record and reference track the types of questions that appear on social media outlets
  • Distribute and/or partner with various  internal resources to ensure social media generated issues are resolved and communicated
  • Partner with various internal (possibly external) resources to update customers on promotions, technical advancements, general content, issues or changes
  • Create, curate, and repurpose content to share with social communities
  • Facilitate the Voice of the Customer (Social Media) to various internal departments and individuals to enhance the customer experience and product strategy

Qualifications:

  • Excellent writing and phone skills
  • Strong grasp of the structure, purpose, and tone of social networks
  • Ability to think quickly, and formulate responses within a short turnaround time
  • Ability to communicate on social networks in a professional, yet personable, way
  • Basic understanding of Marketing practices
  • Ability to work cross functionally
  • Flexibility
  • Comfortable presenting organization’s values, positioning and persona potentially to the  entire social universe
  • Able to “Exercise Responsible Freedom

social customer service team attributes

I think we are dealing with a completely different animal.  So if we are dealing with something different, what should we consider changing?

  • New job titles/roles/descriptions
  • Recruiting – should it need to be socially sourced?
  • On-board training – inclusion of marketing, product, service, HR
  • Core skill development
  • Career progression paths
  • Performance Management
  • Continuous education models

Social Customer Service Team

Since this is such a new arena, all comments and thoughts are very much appreciated.

About mpace101

Comments

  1. 6 Comments

    I agree, Frank. Bucketing social media service into a “new and different” channel is a foolish, expensive and short-sighted approach. While workforce members may be assigned to specific roles based on their individual strengths, the attribute pool for recruiting the workforce is essentially the same.

    • 6 Comments

      Bill,

      I definitely agree that a separate team is much less efficient, breaks most Lean principles and will make WFM much more complicated. I also believe that 99% of customer service organizations are not ready to operationalize their social business customer service strategy. More than 1/2 of my objectives for my social customer service team is about the learning agenda.
      – how does this scale
      – what does the hiring profile look like
      – what infrastructure needs to be in place
      – what do volume curves look like
      – how do we forecast this
      – Intra/Inter dept interactions or workflow
      – Content Management

      I as mentioned previously, I also believe this group of individuals will be creating, curating and repurposing content as much as they will be reacting to customer inquiries and thoughts.

      Yes, this approach is going to be more expensive in the short run, but the pay off to do it right more than will make up the ROI/NPV difference.

      Mike

  2. 6 Comments

    In our company we currently have separated these roles – so far. Nevertheless, about 60 – 70 per cent of the work my (social media) team based in the PR dept. does is customer support. When we launched our forum one year ago we decided though to choose the moderator team from experienced customer service agents – and this has worked brilliantly so far. Although I agree that one2one communication still is different from one2many, I doubt that these agents couldn’t operate other channels as well. And many of them will also be able to produce social media content in addition to simply answering customer inquiries.

    We as corporations simply need to learn that any “personal” e-mail sent to a customer can quite easily become the center of a public blog or forum post that we need to react to. For that matter, any customer service representative should be able to write in a manner that can be published without embarassing their employer.

    • 6 Comments

      Andreas,

      Great point, but do most organizations train to the possibility of emails or chats going viral. I agree with a lot of the comments here, but I do not think the Customer Service world is ready to make the big leap yet. I am personally a proponent of the separate team model (for the short term – which may be 1-3 yrs) until we fully understand some basic questions like;
      – how does this scale
      – what does the hiring profile look like
      – what infrastructure needs to be in place
      – what do volume curves look like
      – how do we forecast this
      – Intra/Inter dept interactions or workflow
      – Content Management

      I believe this space provides an excellent opportunity to get engage the customer more proactively, see http://thepaceofservice.com/archives/82

      Thanks again for the comments, I think this will be a very important conversation going forward. Most folks are so focused on the tools, we need to focus on the people behind them.

      Mike

  3. 6 Comments

    What in that list should not be done by a well trained service oriented workforce? Those same attributes should be done by all service representatives. It is time for us to rethink Customer Service

    • 6 Comments

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for the comment and thoughts over Twitter. My apologies for getting back so late, been traveling and the world of wifi has been spotty at best.

      I agree, optimally, we should be working toward an entire organization that is socially enabled, and can leverage the power of social business. And I agree, I want passionate service representatives across the organization, since every interaction is the face of the brand. My main goal of the post was to highlight that organizations cannot just pull their chat (or any other) agents and expect them to be able to slide into a social customer service role. There needs to be a different thought process in how they proceed in this space because there is a higher risk/reward variable in play.

      I also agree with you that it is time to rethink Customer Service. Customer Service is currently a very reactive process, and I believe social will provide some of the change agent to move Customer Service from a pure reactive retention play. I wrote some of those thoughts in this post http://thepaceofservice.com/archives/82 which is about how the social customer service organization can and should be part of a proactive engagement strategy with our customers.

      Love the conversation here, and would to continue one day in person. Let me know you are up in the Boston area.

      Mike

  4. 6 Comments

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