Incorporating social media into your customer service strategy changes your focus. Instead of answering a ringing phone when there is a problem, now you can focus on solving customer issues proactively, in a way that will make your customers evangelists for your brand, not your competitor’s. Here are 8 steps that your company can take to transform your customers service on-line.
1) Define your Goals and Align them with your Business Objectives
The most important part of developing your on-line customer service strategy is determining how you are going to measure your success. Halfway through the marathon is no time to wonder how you’ll know if you’ve crossed the finish line. Establish your metrics at the same time you create your goals.
The move to social customer service is bringing a new set of measurements that deliver a tangible advantage to today’s forward-thinking businesses:
If you are trying to increase the number of customer service interactions you have through social media, start by establishing a baseline for what that looks like now. Tie your metrics to your business goals, otherwise you’ll waste time pursuing numbers that don’t really matter.
2) Develop a social media strategy
A social media strategy is the game plan for your organization’s digital communications. It outlines how your organization will use channels like email, Facebook, and LinkedIn to foster the relationships necessary to transform business goals into reality. A good social media strategy supports the overarching marketing plan by addressing the following:
- Target Audience Personas – Who are you trying to reach? How do they use social media? What do they care about?
- Goals and Objectives – What are the social media objectives that will support your organization’s goals?
- Strategies – What are the big ideas, changes, or manoeuvres that will make this plan work?
- Messaging and Content Strategy – What are the messages you want your target audience to understand or believe? What content can you create to educate or entertain them?
- Tactics and Technologies – What specific social networks will your organization be a part of? How and where will you publish digital content? What are the specific applications or technologies you will use to shape the customer experience?
- Measurement – What are the specific metrics that you need to keep track of to determine whether your social media efforts are helping you meet objectives? How will you measure them?
- Roles and Responsibilities – Who’s going to write blog posts? Who will monitor social media and respond to customers? Who will develop a social media training program for employees? Define the needs. Assign the tasks.
3) Start Listening Where Your Customers are Talking
Look first for your mentions of your company and product or service brand names. There are three types of conversations that can lead you to new or existing customers online including, Your Brand, You Industry, Your competitors.
4) Start building your internal network of clients
Issues will arise that your staff may not be able to solve on their own. Forging relationships with key contacts and staff ahead of time prevents your team from getting stuck, twiddling their thumbs, and trying to figure out what to do amidst a blooming PR crisis.
5) Create an Engagement Playbook
Leaping into social media without a plan may feel more authentic, but you’ll either be overwhelmed by the volume of conversations, be frozen by situations you hadn’t anticipated, or, worst of all, ignite a social media controversy with an ill-considered response.
You need an engagement playbook to adequately care for your community and customers. Your playbook will walk your personnel through the following workflow steps:
~ Listening to the right conversations
~ Flagging and prioritizing conversations
~ Classifying conversations (“product review,” “sales lead,” “industry discussion,” etc.)
~ Tagging the source (“tier 1 customer,” “influencer,” “employee,” “competitor,” etc.)
~ Escalating the conversation if needed
~ Assigning the post to the appropriate handler (“sales,” “technical support,” “training,” etc.)
The playbook will also outline how to join conversations, setting out which conversations you should respond to privately or publicly, and which are best to remain ignored, deflected to self-service, or handled via phone or email. The playbook will also explain what to say (“How can we help?”) and what not to say (profanity or sensitive information).
6) Train Your Teams on Their Assigned Roles and Responsibilities
Does marketing already monitor social media? Will they answer queries and direct questions to customer support? Or do you want help to handle your social media listening and route the right conversations to the corresponding department within the company?
The important thing is not where you draw the line between responsibilities. The important thing is that your people know where the line is, that everyone involved has the proper skills, and that everyone understands the processes in the engagement playbook you have set forth. That way, you will avoid more than one employee answering a customer query or even worse, ignoring it entirely.
7) Engage and Respond So Existing and Future Customers Know They’ve Been Heard
With your newly created engagement playbook in place, you are ready to join the conversation in a genuine, two-way fashion. Most of the customer service issues that have blown up on Twitter are the result of companies taking too long to respond. Be timely and consistent. And remember, you don’t have to solve the customer’s problem right away in fewer than 140 characters. You simply need to acknowledge their issue and begin the process of addressing it.
8) Measure What Matters
All too often, business metrics themselves work against giving the very best customer service— the kind people want to like, tweet, and blog about.
- When measuring your social customer service efforts, remember to:
- Tie what you measure to hard business metrics
- Don’t ignore the soft benefits
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Measure what will truly make your business remarkable
For tailor-made social media training and consulting, contact Chipo at firstname.lastname@example.org