Making the decision to offer social customer service is just the first step. Once you have the right agents in place and you have supplied them with the tools and technology necessary to do their jobs well, turn your focus to empowering the team. The following techniques have been proven effective, making it possible to turn every communication into a positive, memorable consumer experience.

Personalize Each Interaction

Your agents function as spokespeople for the brand as their posts are made in a public forum. Permit them the opportunity to express their individuality within the boundaries of professional behavior. Social customer service agents make a lasting impression when they speak from the perspective of “I, me and my” instead of “we and our,” and consumers appreciate the knowledge that there is a human being behind the posts. Agents can emphasize this point more clearly by signing posts with their first names or initials.

As seen in the above example, the care agents at Zappos do a phenomenal job ensuring that each interaction they have with their customers is personal and memorable.

Provide the Tools for Start-to-Finish Issue Resolution

If you’re offering social media customer care you need to fully commit. Do not, we repeat, do not have social customer service agents respond to inquiries by directing consumers to traditional phone and email channels.  Not only does this cost your company more money, this leads to frustration on both sides. Customers must work harder to get answers, and agents are simply intermediaries, directing traffic from social media to phone and email. Instead, empower your social customer care team to handle the process from the first contact through issue resolution. Lucky for you, we have on-demand webinar (featuring DreamHost) entirely dedicated to this topic, so be sure to check it out.

“Our team can now handle and solve almost any customer issue on social media, reducing the burden of effort on customers and enabling our social customer care agents to make a real contribution to our overall service strategy.”

Marissa Hanson, Product Marketing Manager, DreamHost

By providing start-to-finish issue resolution you will enjoy happier, more loyal customers as well as highly engaged agents. If you don’t already have a stellar social customer engagement platform that enables you to provide full resolution, you’re going to need this. If you’re wondering what the return on investment will be after adopting a social care tool, there are some great case studies from brands like Emirates, Discover, and Western Union that we recommend you check out.

Determine Your Need for Specialists

Experienced social customer service professionals know that many interactions involve answering the same questions repeatedly. For example, inquiries on return policies and concerns about shipping fees top the list for online retailers. However, just when agents think they have heard it all, a new situation comes up. Product recalls may spark a flurry of messages, and complex products could require very detailed support. The question is how to design your team to maximize efficiency while still preserving the expert knowledge required to resolve uncommon issues.

Many companies staff their social customer service teams with seasoned agents from other channels, ensuring a broad, deep base of knowledge. These general agents can resolve a majority of the inquiries that come in. Some organizations choose to add specialists to the team. These agents receive additional training and preparation to handle complex issues. Specialists may function as generalists most of the time, serving as the go-to resource when concerns in their areas of expertise come up. If metrics suggest that certain complex concerns require dedicated agents, specialists may be tapped to focus on a limited set of topics full-time.

Focus on Agent Experience

Engaged employees are more productive, and they are far more likely to have successful interactions with customers. Unfortunately, avoiding burnout can be a challenge in any customer service position. You can enhance engagement by creating an environment that offers recognition for a job well done, competitive compensation and a close-knit team that operates through collaboration. If you are balancing a virtual team, create opportunities for relationship building. Team chats, video conferencing and occasional full-team in-person training can go a long way in helping agents come together to provide each other with support and share knowledge. If your team is centralized, make sure there is time built into the schedule for relationship-strengthening activities.

Digital channels offer a new way to interact with current and potential customers, and innovative companies are making the most of this. When you create an empowered social customer care team of highly engaged agents, you can look forward to fast, efficient issue resolution and increased customer loyalty. For additional up-to-date social service and engagement guidelines – as well as tactics that are proven winners – download our e-book The Retail Executive’s Playbook for Social Care and Engagement.

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