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March 29, 2017

How to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team

By michaelpace on January 25, 2012

Again this week I am attending and speaking at a Customer Service / Contact Center conference, and I am seeing lots of talk of companies interested in social media, but very few acting on it.  I can understand the trepidation to jump in, and I am concerned for my horizontal (customer service).  The value of a social organization is so incredibly powerful, and by not participating you are missing more than just a new channel.  Over the last year and a half, I have presented the following presentation to help get folks started using social for Customer Service.


The Five Steps to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team

Now you don’t get the benefit of my performance, but I will try to provide a high level summary.

Starting with WHY:

  • Its how people are talking and sharing
  • Peer sharing is overwhelming more trusted than traditional marketing
  • Don’t believe me, go watch your kids

5 Steps to Success

  1. Get Yourself Involved
  • Get to know LinkedIn, Facebook (for business), Twitter, Blogs & other resources
  • Its like learning to ride a bike, you cannot do it by reading a book or watching

2.  Know Your Business

  • Overall strategy and objectives (social media is not an objective, its a tool)
  • Know your customers – what’s important, where are they, industry best practices
  • Get others involved

3.  Listen to your customers

  • Monitoring
  • Understand their language

4.  The Customer Conversation

  • Service Level Agreements for great social support
  • Know the voice of your brand
  • A conversation is two way, build a relationship rather than complete a transaction

5.  Capture Info and Catalog

  • Keep it simple at first
  • Don’t worry about operational metrics yet

Objectives and Metrics

  • Depending on your social maturity, balance business metrics and your learning agenda
  • Engagement = Customer Acquisition x Retention x Average Revenue x Profitability
  • Positive and negative sentiment impact customer acquisition and retention
  • Educate your customers – the more they trust and understand, the more they will spend
  • Social costs per channel can be 1/6 of other channels (phone)

Hiring and People

  • You need a different type of agent to handle social media conversations
  • Basic qualifications and responsibilities

If you have questions or would like to talk more about the presentation, comment or send me a note on LinkedIn, Twitter or email.

Presented at:

IQPC‘s Call Center Summit (Orlando) – January 2011

ICMI‘s ACCE(New Orleans) – June 2011

Contact Center Association Fall Event (Phoenix) – October 2011

ICMI‘s Call Center Demo (Dallas) – October 2011

TSIA’s Technology Services World (Las Vegas) – October 2011 *voted Top 10 presentations by attendees*

How to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team - The Customer Conversation


Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Media Wave

Waiting for the social wave

By michaelpace on August 19, 2011

Ok, show of hands (and be honest, I can see you through your webcam), does your company provide social customer service through your actual customer service department?

Or does Marketing handle it; or some other department or combo? During a webinar hosted by Jeremiah Owyang (a must follow) earlier this month, he stated that roughly in 70% of the cases, Marketing handles social media, including customer service inquiries. In my own experience speaking with customer service executives and at conferences, I estimate less than 10% of customer service departments handle support related inquires or comments. Why? Why are you not riding the Social Customer Service wave or are you waiting for the wave to crash into you?

Reason #1: Marketing owns and handles social

Background or Myth: Marketing should handle social media stuff because of possible public relation issues, social media is a marketing job, or it’s just always been that way.

Reality: Social media is a tool of social business, similar to your phone system being a tool for your customer service. You probably don’t own the phone system, and Marketing probably doesn’t need your permission to use the phone. If individuals are afraid of a public relations issue being created through social media, do they monitor all of your outgoing emails and chats? An email or a chat is equally “socialable” through their own technology or in combination with other social networks. Similar to email and chat technology channels, best practices, process and clear roles and responsibilities are needed to execute effectively. Your customer service team is best equipped to handle service inquiries and provide content that helps educate your customers. And anytime someone tells you it’s always been done that way, you know it’s time for a change.

Reason #2: If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

Background or Myth: You know there are millions of people on social sites like Facebook, but they are not talking about our brand or service (or at least we haven’t heard it).

Reality: If you are not listening, how can you know if someone is talking about or to you? Have you ever put your company name (or variations of) into Google Blog Search or into Twitter’s Search? There are tremendous amount of free tools to use to listen to understand if people are talking to you or about you. I prefer Hootsuite for Twitter and Google Alerts for everything else on the web. It’s now common place for people to express their opinions to their friends, family and followers on the web, and it will only become more common. Per Socialnomics, ½ of the world’s population is under 30, they do not know what life was like before the internet (think about it).

Reason #3: Not a valuable use of time or resources

Background or Myth: As compared to our other channels, social media related channels are such a small percentage of our overall volume.

Reality: The previous statement is both true and false. It is true for an actual physical count of tweets, Facebook posts, blogs commenting on your business, and LinkedIn discussions, but it does not accurately reflect the impact. For example, at Constant Contact (where I work), the average person tweeting positively or negatively about us has approximately 1300 followers. Over the course of 2010, there were almost 1,000,000 impressions of positive or negative commentary. Now not all of those impressions were influential, but even if a small portion (10% or 100,000) were influential, doesn’t it make sense for you to be a part of those conversations?

Reason #4: We are in a regulated industry; we could break laws by talking about personal accounts publicly

Background or Myth: In many industries, such as healthcare and financial services, public “discussion” of personal information can land your company in a heap of legal and compliance trouble. This statement is true, but there are reasons to still get engaged.

Reality: Probably the most valuable aspect of social customer service (at this point) is pure acknowledgement of being heard. If someone mentions you on the social web, you should still acknowledge their message and then offer to take it to a more secure channel. If you need to track even these minimal conversations, you can do it manually or if you have the scale, most CRMs now are available with social tools integrated into their workcase management. Regulated industries are typically complicated, which also makes them ripe for proactive outbound communications to your customers about your products and services. Blogs, branded communities, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn provide fantastic platforms for educational content that can be pulled from existing sources like your knowledge base or marketing materials.

Reason #5: Getting started is too overwhelming

Background or Myth: There is very limited data or information on how to get started in social customer service, let alone operationalizing it.

Reality: Yes, getting up and running in social customer service is a sizeable task, but like other large initiatives, if you break it down it can be less daunting. Below is my high level work breakdown structure:

  1. Get yourself involved in social media
  2. Know your business strategy/what are your objectives/guidelines More information on steps 1 & 2
  3. Listen to your customers
  4. Customer Conversation
    • Develop SLA’s
    • Know your brand (big difference in Tiffany & Co.’s & Zappos corporate voice)
    • Engage your customers
  5. Workflow, Catalog & Tracking
  6. Developing & delivering proactive contentSocial Wave

Customer service leaders have a choice, try to stand strong against the incoming wave, and hope it does not knock you over (or provide a competitive disadvantage), or pick up your board, paddle out and ride the wave. This trend may not have all the same tools at the end of the day, but the premise of social business will remain, and become more prevalent in our lives and the lives of our future customers.

To chat with a bunch of other smart people about the topic of social customer service, and getting started, join me, Brad Cleveland, Bob Furniss & Todd Hixon for a tweetchat presented by ICMI on Tuesday, 8/23 @ 6:30 pm CST – follow hashtag #CCDemo11 for up to date details and more information.


Wave Image Credit,solitary/Interesting

Surfing image

Can Location Based Services provide the next great WOW Customer Service Moment?

By michaelpace on July 6, 2011

Future of Location Based Services and Customer ServiceWhile sitting on the white sand beaches of Cancun last week*, I was thinking about Foursquare’s announcement that they have reached 10,000,000 users.  10 MILLION users is not chump change.  Now when you include other Location Based Services like Facebook Places (30-40M+), SCVNGR (1M+) and Gowalla (~2M), and then you add the users of “Whatcha Doing LBS Apps” like GetGlue, Foodspotting, Soundtracking and Instagram (8M+), you can begin to see the magnitude of open, vocal and sharing users (or customers).   Furthermore, I began thinking about how the Customer Service world can leverage this technology to retain and thrill customers.

To date, much of the buzz around Location Based Services has been around its “Marketing” applications, and directed to “Marketing” professionals.  But we all know incredible customer service and word of mouth advertising was the first Marketing (I doubt those of the oldest profession [Ahem] had marketing departments and budgets).  So if you don’t understand and use LBS applications, it is time for Customer Service to get on the bandwagon because the possibilities are near endless.

Location Based Services allow users to indicate where they are, what they are doing and what they are seeing, most often using the GPS in a mobile device, and providing the access to comment via their social networks (such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and email).  Having this real time information and sentiment of where someone is, what they are doing and sometimes how they feel are tremendous tools for Customer Service organizations.

Below are a few scenarios or use cases of how LBS tools can be used to create WOW Customer Service Moments:

Industry: Retail

Tool: Foursquare/Gowalla

Scenario: Customer walks into a large retail establishment, such as @wholefoods or @bestbuy, and checks in using Foursquare or Gowalla and tweets their status.  Leveraging real time monitoring tools, a Social Customer Service Agent could acknowledge, thank and offer their services within minutes of arrival and become a mobile concierge for the customer.  If the customer has a question of where an item is located in the store, or if they need more information about a product, the customer service agent is available and ready for their inquiries.  It would only take one well executed use to secure that customer and potentially blow away their expectations.  This example also works well for hospitality and event management industries.


Industry: SAAS – Software as a Service

Tool: GetGlue

Scenario: (Actual case) Customer indicates that they are “Thinking about creating their next Constant Contact Email Marketing newsletter” on GetGlue from their iPad. (Note: I am the Director of Customer Support for Constant Contact), and promotes their status through Facebook and Twitter.   My Social Customer Support team uses Hootsuite to monitor Constant Contact mentions (and variations) in Twitter.  Upon seeing the tweet, we will introduce ourselves, our handle (@CTCTHelp) and offer assistance if case they ever need it.  About 20 minutes later, we received a response from our customer thanking us for our responsiveness and availability.  This particular customer did not use our services for this particular email, but they did follow us.  By following our help handle, we can give real time alerts to new product release offerings and issues, receive curated, relevant content to small businesses and links back into our most popular community discussions.

Industry: Yours (doesn’t make a difference)


Scenario: SCVNGR attempts to create a game layer on top of the world by using your location to mark a place where a “Challenge” is completed.  For example, a customer can check-in to their local taqueria using SCVNGR, and complete a challenge of creating a foil goose with their burrito wrapper to earn points towards possible deals or honors.  Schools and universities are using this challenge/gaming format to develop new and interesting ways to educate their students.  Customer Service organizations can borrow the same idea as schools to educate their associates on social business, social media tools and how to use these collaboratively internally and externally.  The future’s most powerful organizations will be the ones that integrate social’s best practices and disciplines throughout their daily activities to help the customer of today, and more importantly the one of tomorrow.  Understanding your customers and serving where they are is a sure way to thrill them.


What other ways can Customer Service organizations leverage Location Based Services to create WOW Moments?

Location Based Services and other social tools are blurring the Customer Service/Marketing line more and more each day.  Do we need to rethink how we structure our organizations to deliver retention and customer satisfaction goals?  Do these tools help make the case?


For an incredible, inclusive resource on Location Based Services and Marketing, get in line and pre-order Michael Schneider and Aaron Strout’s book Location Based Marketing for Dummies.

(*Yes, I manage communities and customer service organizations and do take vacations – it is possible)

Note to my hardcore Customer Service brethren: Before I get a boat load of comments and replies about how we need to get the basics of customer service right first, cool your jets.  I know that our discipline still requires more consistency in delivering to expectation, and know that if we are not looking and moving forward, we will be forever behind.  It’s the balance that we all must strike.