Supercharging Your Social Care

When it comes to customer support on social media, the margin for error is about three inches wide. Social media users have extremely high expectations when they engage with companies — they expect fast answers, accurate answers, empathetic answers, and problem-solving answers.

Thus, if your company engages customers on social media, “good” is not good enough. In fact, good may even be bad:

  • A response time of an hour may seem lightning fast to you based on standards for other customer care platforms, but on social media, an hour may be perceived as infuriatingly slow.
  • A response asking for contact information so a technical rep can make contact may be standard operating procedure on other customer care platforms, but on social media, it may be perceived as “getting the runaround.”

The danger of provoking a negative response is far deeper than aggravating one customer. For instance, the aggrieved party may dash of a scathingly negative review on Yelp or BBB that pops to the top of Google every time a prospect conducts a search. Recovering from this type of problem is costly, time-consuming, and often only partially effective.

Here are three important ways you not only can maintain the necessary high standards for social care but also elevate your team above customer expectations. 

1. Train Like There’s No Tomorrow

A well-trained customer care team improves speed and accuracy of response. No matter how well you train the staff, team members will never have all the answers. Thus, it’s important not only to give them as much product/service training as possible but also to train them on how to get answers quickly when confronted with technical questions, issues too large for them to handle solo and uncategorized issues. To these ends:

  • Provide hands-on product training. Get team members in the field to see products/services in action, if possible/applicable. Real-life training makes the lessons sink in.
  • Have team members sit in with other departments, and observe. The more they know about your business and operations, the more confidently they can talk about them or translate internal issues into customer-satisfying responses.
  • Document a process that gives team members a blueprint for how to quickly find answers to those questions they can’t handle. This probably involves creating new “hotlines” of internal communication.
  • Write scripts for handling common issues that arise, suggesting (or requiring, as the case may be) your preferred response. This will be a living document that grows and improves as new issues arise and better responses are discovered.
  • Spend time with the team reviewing problems, challenges, lowlights and highlights of the week. Sharing this information and tackling these issues translates into continuously improving social care.

2. Go Above and Beyond

Social care teams should not be in full response mode, focusing only on customers with specific, immediate issues. By being proactive in social monitoring, teams can uncover opportunities to nip problems in the bud and turn prospects into brand evangelists.

Here’s an example. A friend of mine made a rather offhand tweet about how generic swabs are hard to use. The next thing she knew, Q-tips® messaged her saying they’d like to make their product her product and asked if they could send samples. A couple of days later, a box of Q-tips® arrived. Pretty nice, huh? Wait, there’s more. The products were nicely gift-wrapped inside a high-end coffee mug with a drawing of a cat on it. Why a cat? Because my friend’s Twitter name included a cat reference. Stunned that a company would bother to do all this, she has become a loyal Q-tips® customer and spreads the Q-tips® gospel wherever she goes.

If your customer care team does something like that just once or twice a day, imagine the goodwill, positive online reviews and business it would generate over the course of a year. It’s things like that that get people talking about your brand with enthusiasm, on social media and off.

3. Swag Soothes Soreness

The idea of sending product samples described above can be broadened into a more general way to win over customers straddling the loyalty fence. Here, the strategy is to have the customer care team monitor social conversations not only for negative comments but also positive ones. For instance …

  • A customer with a product problem may be willing to try another product that will perhaps better fit his/her need. Why not send such a person a care package with samples of one or more options?
  • A customer praising one of your products will likely be interested in trying your related products. Even if none of the products are purchased, you’ve created tremendous goodwill just for making the effort. And, if the individual passes along some of those samples to friends and relatives, perhaps you will have drummed up new business anyway.

In addition to samples, including a logo T-shirt, hat, pen, stuffed animal, oven mitt or whatever else catches your customers’ fancy makes the effort even more appreciated.

An important aside: Make these “above and beyond” efforts happen as quickly as possible. Time is always of the essence.

Staffing

In conclusion, every company must consider its resources to adequately staff a social care team before committing to a program. If it is true that the standard of care must be very, very high, then a company must invest in training — and have enough people to handle the current and projected volume of social care activity. In some cases, 24/7 staffing and/or multilingual staffing will be necessary, especially for companies that market globally.

At the moment, customer care is a competitive advantage rather than a competitive necessity, but that is likely to change — and change soon. The explosion in mobile Internet use, the relentlessly expanding popularity of social media in B2C and B2C, and the excellent social care teams many companies have put together add up to one thing — now is the time for every company to start thinking seriously about awesome social care.

About the Author: 

Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing service provider in Chicago that offers SEO, PPC, and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Smashing Magazine, Moz, and Forbes.