5 Questions to Ask About Social Media Customer Support

As more companies incorporate social media into their customer support strategy, implementation managers should consider the following advice to determine the type of customer care strategy they can successfully execute in their contact center.

For many businesses, the social media component is a critical element for their contact center. As a contact center is the extension of the brand, social media is an extension of the service. It is one more form of interaction that today’s public recognizes.

If you want to integrate social media into your contact center, here are five questions you should ask yourself as you approach this option.

How can I monitor all that’s being said in the social media arena?
You may be aware of all the social media sites from Facebook and Twitter to Pinterest and Tumblr, but aggregating the information is a challenge. Let the professionals do it for you.

For example, Radian6, NetBase, socialmention and HootSuite are a few of the many choices that will accumulate and organize the information.

You only have so much time in the day to self-monitor – so use the services that do it best, and find the one with which you feel comfortable. You’ll capture interesting information, conversation and feedback about your brand – and discover insight you may not have known.

What do I look for in evaluating social media?
Download the information from the monitoring service, and share with your contact center manager.

Review it carefully and identify comments and consistent remarks that stand out.

Are there comments that many people express?

Are they generating reactions from others?

Is it a negative concern you can address?

Is it a positive comment you can upsell?

Are comments hyper-personal, or are they remarks that impact many?

Is there a strategy for integrating social media monitoring into the contact center workflow?
Once you’ve determined comments that are consistent or important, discuss what role the contact center can play.

There’s no one answer that fits all in integrating the contact center into your social media management. It depends on many factors including: what the volume of online buzz is; how many representatives are assigned to monitor and/or respond to posts; how many hours will be allotted to the activity, and so on.

Social media can take on a life of its own so it’s important to set up parameters that give you enough time to make it work but not allow it to overwhelm your staff.

Can social media monitoring supplement the customer support function?
The answer is certainly yes. You’ll need to respond to comments – both favorable and unfavorable.

Before you do, however, make sure you know whose voice will be the audible one. Will it be the customer support professional or a C-level executive? Do you want to encourage more dialogue, or quell comments?

Should every comment be taken seriously, or is some chatter just that – online stream-of-consciousness? As you find the answers to these questions, you’ll gain a comfort level for engaging in social media that will, by its very nature, add a positive spin to your brand.

By responding to tweets, Facebook posts, blog musings and forum threads, you can address small issues before they become big, help customers resolve problems, correct misperceptions and polish your brand image.

Once social media becomes a fully-realized initiative, you’ll see that it can augment numerous avenues for customer support.

How can I optimize agent efficiency through social media?
Tofully integrate sustainable social media management over time, you will also need to make the business case in the short term for onboarding social media as a piece of your customer service solution.

One way to do this is to use social media monitoring as a stop-gap measure to increase the efficiency of your current agent utilization.

If you have agents answering phones and chats, but still have 15 minutes remaining in a given hour, your agents can best use their down-time to monitor and engage on your social presences.

Phillip Crowe is director of social media for Global Response .