Three considerations before exploring social customer service

A few weeks ago Econsultancy reported that just 11% of retailers use social media channels to respond to customers; while 81% of businesses use the channels for marketing purposes.

Pair this with the fact that 46% of consumers expect great customer service online, not to mention 78% of consumers as reported by Parature, believe social media will become the prominent method for consumers to communicate with companies and something has gone awry.

As Econsultancy outlines, this may be largely impacted by the legacy of ageing CRM systems and the office – and contact centre – culture of prohibiting social media usage during work hours.

Perhaps more impactful is the fear that social customer service is somewhat of a Pandora’s Box of unknown resourcing requirements that can make it difficult to know where to start.

To make navigating that Pandora’s Box a little bit easier, we’ve outlined three key considerations, to help get your brand started on the right course.



1.     Set your service levels

Before committing to social customer service, it is important to put a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place. Your contact centre may operate Monday to Friday between 9-5pm, but your social platforms never sleep. You need clearly defined operational hours and these need to be visibly displayed on any platforms customers engage with; the Twitter bio and the Facebook info sections can be utilised for this.

2.     Get a handle on resourcing

Consider the resourcing implications and handling times. Use a monitoring tool to audit your online customer conversations and this will give you an estimate of the volumes you can expect. The handling time will vary by platform but you will need to gauge the resource needed to handle an individual customer interaction on social media to help you build up a more solid picture of the head-count you might need to manage it. You will also need to consider whether your PR and marketing teams refer enquiries into your customer care team, or whether your customer care team engage directly. If this is the case, then additional training will be required.

3.     Set expectations

Finally, consider the outputs. At the very least social customer service should offer a mechanism for funnelling additional customers into the contact centre; at best it is a very visible means of turning detractors into brand advocates.

If you would like to find out more about integrating social media into customer service, then immediate future Principal Consultant, Katy Howell, is speaking at The Social Customer 2012 conference in London on March 29.

For details and to find out how to claim immediate future’s exclusive 10% discount contact

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