As social media continues to play a major role in how companies engage and support their customer's needs, an increasing number of companies are evaluating whether this engagement requires its own department or if it can be incorporated into the existing customer support infrastructure. If call centers handle customer service, the question becomes how, and to what extent social media can be integrated into operations.
It's clear that when it comes to customer support, call center agents are most likely already the best trained personnel to handle issues. They're already familiar with responding to various complaints, inquiries or comments. They know how to handle a high volume of interaction. They are trained to address issues in a timely manner. They know how to implement escalation procedures. They're accustomed to reporting findings. And they're comfortable dealing with the public. But while all of these skills make the call center a feasible resource for handling customer service issues channeled through social media, there are major considerations to vet.
Qualifications of a social media call center agent
The most obvious requirement is that the agent come to the table with some level of understanding of the different social media platforms, how they function and the nature and tone of their conversations. Facebook interaction will look much different than Twitter interaction; Reddit links and YouTube comments will require an altogether different kind of handling. The agent will need to be flexible and adept enough to approach each service issue appropriately based on the social media channel or channels it comes through.
How success is measured will change
Vadim Anikanov, an expert on social media-based customer care, says to measure success you can still adapt the main KPI groups: Quantity, Quality, Customer Feedback, Call Outcome and Call Economics. He explains that the key challenge is correctly determining the base unit – unlike a single phone call, interactions in social media may lack a clearly defined end. It would be fairly normal to see a customer responding to an agent a few hours later, or maybe a few days. It would still be part of the same thread.
Anikanov also says that it is normal to see multiple media shifts within the same interaction. The issue may start on Twitter or Facebook, continue on company forums, do a direct VoIP call or Skype chat or refer to an instructional video on YouTube. All of these communication ‘bursts’ would still be part of the same communication, he writes.
Social media is very human
By its very nature, social media is about personal connections. It's informal and conversational. The agent in this role will have to lose any script-like responses to issues. There will still need to be set procedures and protocol to follow, but their delivery should match the tone of the medium. Stodgy, canned conversation won't resonate in the world of social media and might even cause more damage.
Customers who reach out via social media are different in that they are quite relational. Social media gives your company a unique opportunity to connect with them on a personal level which can be far more valuable than a phone call with an agent. The key to making the most of these interactions, however, is to make sure you recognize early that call center customer service and social customer service won't be carbon copies of each other.