The Biggest Operational Inefficiency in Social Care

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People are probably the biggest operational inefficiency I see with social care. The worst part? This problem is easily solved more strategically with outsourcing.

Let me explain. Many times, the math isn’t mathing with way corporations and brands set up their social media customer care, or social care, program.

In fact, decisions that are made around cutting costs really end up costing a ton more over time. “But Brooke, we can’t afford senior leaders for customer care!” Not true.

Today, I’ll show you how glad you’ll be to be dead wrong.

CX as a Cost Center

First, we must stop viewing Customer Experience (CX) as a cost center. When done correctly, it’s a strategic asset.

The biggest reason executives might (wrongly!) perceive customer experience as a cost center is primarily due to a traditional, short-term financial perspective that views customer service operations as non-revenue-generating activities.

This antiquated mindset focuses on the immediate costs associated with maintaining a customer service department, such as salaries, training, technology, and overheads, without appreciating the long-term value and revenue potential that exceptional customer experience can bring.

Many executives fail to see the indirect revenue generation capabilities of CX, such as …

  • Customer retention
  • Loyalty
  • Brand advocacy
  • Positive word-of-mouth marketing (that satisfied customers provide)

Unlike direct sales or marketing efforts, the benefits of investing in CX are often realized over a longer period, making it harder to quantify and appreciate their impact on the company’s bottom line in the short term.

This failure to recognize the strategic value of CX stems from a lack of understanding of how modern markets operate. Today, customer expectations are higher than ever, and the customer experience can be a significant differentiator between competitors.

So, viewing CX merely as a cost center rather than an integral part of the company’s strategy for growth and sustainability can do more than make you look outdated. It can lead to missed opportunities and potential loss of market share.

Your mindset shift requires recognizing the direct link between quality social care and overall organizational success with CX.

High-quality customer care fosters loyalty, promotes brand advocacy, and can significantly impact the bottom line by reducing churn and enhancing customer lifetime value.

Understanding the Core of Inefficiency in Social Care

Before diving deeper into solutions, it’s crucial to understand the root causes of inefficiency in social care.

At its core, the problem often revolves around how organizations manage their most valuable asset – people.

Part Two of my book goes deep into the organizational mismatch that takes place between most companies and their employees. For example, social media is “on” 24/7 while most traditional employees work 9am to 5pm.

Conversations That Connect

However, it’s so much more than that.

From misalignment of skills to underutilization of talent and ineffective deployment of resources, the issues are manifold. That said, perhaps the most critical error is the perception of customer care, especially social care, as a non-essential or secondary function.

When One Equals More Than Many

I can’t tell you how often I have seen this ‘people problem’ play out with hiring. The Social Director or CMO sees a problem that needs to be solved with social care and throws a person at the problem.

This hire is usually an entry-level person because everyone says “CX is a cost center!” So, you end up hiring cheap or underpaying for this role. Problem solved, you think. And, by the way, “I saved the company money, too!”

Months later, you realize your problem isn’t really solved, so you throw another entry-level employee at it. And soon enough, another one.

Ultimately, this was an operational inefficiency that could have been solved more strategically with outsourcing. I see this across marketing and CX departments of brands, but most often with social care.

Obviously, everyone has a budget to live by. But, please, ensure you’re solving your social care issues strategically, not in ways that will cost you much, much more over time.

I would rather see you hire a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) like Christina Garnett versus a full-time Social Care Manager for 50K.

fractional cco christina garnett

[Source: Pocket CCO]

The Strategic Advantage of Outsourcing

If the corporate mismatch of social care is present and you need to rely on a vendor instead, you may actually be surprised at how many advantages you automatically obtain.

Outsourcing social care can help you …

  • Scale the social care team up or down with ease (what we call “right-sizing”) — and you can do this every day.
  • Have an immediate plan and structure, including shifts that cover weekends and holidays.
  • Use tools that will work with your existing business goals and KPIs and quantify ‘hard to measure’ results.
  • Hit the ground running with tried-and-true processes, triage & escalation handling, and reporting.

By partnering with specialized agencies (like B Squared Media!), you can not only cut costs but also enhance the quality of your social care program.

Let’s look at several of the ways your ‘people problem’ can be solved with outsourcing.

1. Cost vs. Value: Redefining the Equation

A common pushback against outsourcing is centered around cost. However, this perspective fails to take into account the total value delivered through outsourcing.

Most full-time employees (FTE) cost more than just their salary. An employee with an annual salary of $50,000 (more on social media costs here) can cost you $60,000 – $70,000 in total benefits and taxes.

sprout social social media costsWhen evaluating potential partners, the focus should be on their ability to provide not just service but also strategic insights, technological innovations. Not to mention, process optimizations that can transform social care from a cost center into a value generator. At B Squared Media, we do this with our social selling program.

Your partner should bring to the table expertise, technology, and processes honed through years of focusing exclusively on social media customer care.

For instance, we’ve seen that our specialization allows for efficiencies that an in-house team, stretched thin over multiple responsibilities, usually struggles to achieve.

2. Leveraging Integration, Technology, and Innovation

Furthermore, technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing social care.

When it comes to social care, it’s a pretty radical departure from the way most brands approach their digital marketing, including their traditional customer support.

This could mean a fairly significant reorganization of your teams. And, depending on how large you are, that restructure can impact everything from which budget it hits to reporting lines to skill mismatches.

Moreover, outsourcing partners often have access to advanced technologies. These can be anything from AI-driven chatbots to analytics platforms to CRM systems.

Our tool of choice, Sprout Social, recently announced their focus on social care. Check out their new reporting insights below.

sprout social social cate reporting

[Source: Sprout Social]

Utilizing what your partner has built can provide a level of service, personalization, and efficiency difficult to achieve in-house.

3. The Human Touch: Ensuring Quality in Outsourcing

While technology is crucial, the human element cannot be overlooked.

The success of an outsourcing partnership also depends on the quality of the staff your service provider has. Ensuring that these individuals are not only skilled but also align with your organization’s values and customer care philosophy is vital.

Finally, because these highly-skilled teams are experts at reducing response times and personalizing customer interactions, they can often predict customer needs before they even arise.

Case Study: Success Story of Strategic Outsourcing

To illustrate the potential of strategic outsourcing, consider the case of a leading luxury application brand client that transitioned its social care functions to our specialized agency.

b squared media social care case study results

The results were transformative: a 58% reduction in repeat customer support complaints, a 350% increase in customer conversations on social media, and a significant reduction in operational costs.

These improvements were achieved through a combination of advanced technology, process optimization, and a team of our dedicated social care professionals.

Implementing a Successful Outsourcing Strategy

Transitioning to an outsourcing model requires careful planning and execution.

Key steps include:

  1. Defining clear objectives.
  2. Selecting the right partner through a rigorous evaluation process.
  3. Establishing a framework for ongoing collaboration and communication.

It’s also crucial to maintain a level of oversight and involvement to ensure that the outsourcing partnership continues to align with your brand’s goals and values.

Transforming Social Care through Strategic Outsourcing

Operational inefficiency in social care, primarily stemming from suboptimal human resource management, poses a significant challenge.

However, by reevaluating the role of CX as a strategic asset and embracing the potential of outsourcing, brands can overcome these challenges.

The key lies in recognizing the value that specialized partners bring to the table, from technological innovation to process optimization and beyond. By strategically leveraging these resources, you can transform your brand’s social care.

Caring for customers should move from a cost burden to a cornerstone of your success. And ultimately, benefit not just the bottom line but the individuals you serve.

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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
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Tags: customer experience, customer experience management, digital customer care, outsourced customer experience management, outsourced social media, outsourced social media customer service, outsourced social media management, outsourcing social media engagement, , ,
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