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Building an Effective Social Media Customer Service Team

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building an effective social media customer service team BLOG

The significance of social media in shaping brand reputation and customer relationships is unparalleled.

With more businesses turning towards social media platforms for marketing and customer engagement, the need for an effective social media customer service team has become a critical aspect of business strategy.

Let’s look at the intricate process of building a team that not only responds to customer inquiries and complaints but also enhances your brand’s image and customer satisfaction.

Understanding the Role of Social Media in Customer Service

Without a doubt, social media has transformed the way businesses interact with their customers.

Unlike traditional customer service channels, social media offers immediacy and accessibility, making it a preferred platform for many customers. Therefore, the role of a social media customer service team is not just to solve problems but to engage with customers proactively.

They are a huge part of creating a positive brand image!

Most importantly, many brands confuse social media moderation with social media customer care, so let’s talk about what each of those things mean.

And, you know, why they are not the same.

Social Media Customer Service ≠ Moderation

Social media moderation and social media customer care, while both crucial for maintaining a brand’s online presence, serve distinctly different functions within the realm of social media management.

Moderation on Social Media

  1. Objective: The primary objective of social media moderation is to monitor and manage the content that is posted on your brand’s social media platforms. This includes comments, posts, and any user-generated content that appears on these platforms.
  2. Focus on Community Standards: Moderation is largely about ensuring content on the social media channels adheres to community guidelines and standards. This involves removing offensive, inappropriate, or harmful content, and also making sure that the interactions within the community are respectful and within the bounds of your brand’s policies.
  3. Content Curation and Management: It involves curating user-generated content, deciding what gets highlighted, and what needs to be suppressed or reported. Moderators often work to maintain a positive and constructive environment on the platform.
  4. Crisis Management: Moderation plays a key role in crisis management, particularly in identifying and mitigating the spread of false information, or addressing negative sentiments that can escalate into a crisis for the brand.

Social Media Customer Care

  1. Objective: The main goal of social media customer care is to address the needs, questions, and complaints of customers and would-be customers using social media to reach out to your business. It is a direct line of sales support for potential customers, and retention efforts for those seeking assistance with a product/service.
  2. Focus on Customer Engagement: Unlike moderation, customer care is about engaging directly with potential and current customers, providing answers to their queries, resolving issues, and offering support. It’s more about one-on-one interactions with customers.
  3. Brand Representation and Relationship Building: Customer care representatives act as the voice of the brand and play a crucial role in building and maintaining relationships with customers. They are tasked with ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty through their interactions. At B Squared Media, they are also tasked with social selling.
  4. Feedback and Improvement: Customer care involves collecting feedback from customers about their experiences with the brand’s products or services. This feedback is often used for improving products, services, and overall customer experience.

The Importance of Quick Response Times

One of the key elements of effective social media customer service is response time.

In our State of Social Care report for 2023, you can see that nearly 75% of marketers who too the survey try to answer social media inquiries in five hours or less.

social media response times state of social care report b squared media

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Customers expect quick and efficient responses to their queries. For the marketers who choose anything over 24 hours, lots of luck!

Not too long ago, a 24-hour response time might have been acceptable for many customers. But today’s consumer, empowered by the instantaneous nature of social platforms, expects a significantly quicker reply.

  • Twitter (X) users, for instance, often expect a response within an hour, especially if they’re voicing a complaint.
  • Facebook and Instagram users might be a tad more patient, but even they anticipate a response within a few hours.

Brands that consistently meet or exceed these expectations can boost their image, loyalty, and customer satisfaction.

On the flip side, delayed responses can quickly escalate into PR crises, especially if a customer’s concern goes viral. If you can avoid it, it’s better to spare your social media customer service team from this firestorm.

The ‘Always-On’ Culture & Its Pressures

While the rapid-response culture offers brands an excellent opportunity to engage with customers in real-time, it also poses challenges:

  1. Operational Strain: Maintaining a near-constant online presence requires resources. This can strain smaller businesses that may not have a social media customer service team or budget to support social care. From what we’ve seen, even enterprise-sized brands struggle with the dynamic staffing needed for social care.
  2. Quality vs. Quantity: The rush to respond quickly might sometimes compromise the quality of the response. A hastily typed reply might miss addressing all concerns or might come across as insincere.
  3. Employee Wellbeing: Demanding an ‘always-on’ approach can lead to employee burnout, especially if your social media customer service teams feel pressured to be perpetually available. This can have long-term negative effects on staff morale and turnover.

cx perceived right state of social care report b squared media[Source]

The constant need for engagement, monitoring, and response, even during off- hours, weekends, and holidays, can take a toll on employees’ work-life balance and mental well-being.

However, choosing to outsource these responsibilities to a trusted partner can help alleviate this stress.

By entrusting a dedicated team to handle social media during non-working hours, employees can enjoy a healthier work-life balance, reducing burnout and ensuring that your brand’s online presence remains active and responsive.

Most importantly, outsourcing ultimately leads to a more sustainable and effective digital customer experience.

Hiring the Right Social Media Customer Service Team

Before diving into the hiring process, it’s crucial to understand what makes social media customer service teams unique.

Unlike traditional customer service, social media interactions are public and immediate. Your team will be the frontline of your brand’s image, engaging in real-time with a diverse audience.

Skills to Look for in Candidates

When hiring for your social media customer service team, certain skills are non-negotiable:

  1. Communication Skills: Clear, concise, and empathetic communication is vital. Your team members must be able to convey messages effectively and handle conversations with tact and professionalism. It goes without saying, grammar and spelling are crucial here.
  2. Social Media Savvy: An in-depth understanding of various social media platforms and their specific nuances is crucial. Your team should be adept at using these platforms to engage with customers effectively.
  3. Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to think on one’s feet and provide quick solutions is key. Your team should be capable of handling complaints and queries efficiently.
  4. Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of others is essential in customer service. Your team must be empathetic to customer concerns and respond in a manner that reflects understanding and care. [See our 25 scripts for using empathy in social care.]

Finally, when building your team, focus on candidates with excellent communication skills, a deep understanding of social media platforms, and the ability to handle complex customer interactions with critical thinking.

If you really want to go in deep on how we hire here at B Squared Media, consider taking our course: Mastering Social Media CX, where we have a whole chapter dedicated to building your team.

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The Hiring Process: Finding the Right Fit

Crafting the Job Description

Start with a job description that accurately reflects the role’s requirements. Highlight the importance of customer engagement, problem-solving skills, and proficiency in social media management.

Effective Interview Techniques

Use behavioral interview techniques to gauge how candidates have handled past situations. This can provide insight into their problem-solving abilities and how they interact with customers.

*We actually give our community managers real-life examples that stumped us the first time we saw them, leading to an practical way of examining their critical-thinking skills.

Training Your Social Media Customer Service Team for Excellence

Training your team is essential. This should include not only product knowledge and company policies but also training in social media etiquette and crisis management.

Once you have your team, invest in their training and development. This should include:

  1. Product and Service Knowledge: Ensure your social media customer service team has comprehensive knowledge of your products or services.
  2. Social Media Best Practices: Regular training on social media best practices and updates on platform changes.
  3. Customer Service Etiquette: Reinforce the importance of maintaining a positive brand image and how to handle various customer interactions.

Fostering a Team Culture

Collaboration and Support

Encourage a culture of collaboration and support. Social media customer service can be challenging, and a supportive team environment can significantly improve performance and job satisfaction.

Also, if you need some idea generation, check out our post on 50 social media customer support ideas.

Continuous Feedback

Implement a system for continuous feedback and improvement. Regularly review interactions and provide constructive feedback to help your team grow and excel. And please, please, PLEASE include other departments in your feedback loop (like sales, product development, UX, marketing, etc.).

b-squared-media-customer-care-is-everyones-job

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Measuring Team Performance

Establish clear performance metrics for your social media customer service team such as response time, customer satisfaction, and resolution rate. Regularly review these metrics to assess team performance and identify areas for improvement.

Similarly, we’re big on return on conversation for improving social media content and collection of voice of customer data.

Encouraging Professional Growth

Offer opportunities for professional development. This could include training in advanced customer service skills, social media management, or leadership training for senior team members.

The Multi-Faceted Process of Hiring a Social Media Customer Service Team

As you can see, building the right social media customer service team is a multi-faceted process that involves careful selection, comprehensive training, and ongoing support and development.

By focusing on the above key areas, you can create a team that not only represents your brand effectively but also contributes to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Remember, your social media customer service team is the voice of your brand online; their performance can significantly impact your brand’s reputation and success.

Developing a Social Media Customer Service Strategy (with training)

An effective strategy for your social media customer service team is a critical component for any business looking to thrive in the digital landscape.

Next, I’ll outlines the essential steps and considerations in developing a strategy that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations (while also enhancing your brand’s presence on social media).

Understanding the Importance of a Structured Strategy

The first step in developing a strategy is recognizing its importance. A well-structured social media customer service strategy ensures consistency in customer interactions (on every channel, on or offline), aligns with your overall business goals, and helps in effectively managing your brand’s online reputation.

I go into excruciatingly deep detail in Part Two of my book, Conversations That Connect. Hint: It’s only $5.99 on Kindle right now!

ConversationsThatConnectBook

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Setting Clear Objectives

Define clear objectives for your team. These might include improving customer satisfaction scores, increasing positive feedback, or reducing response times. (That last one is a personal favorite.)

At the end of the day, slow response times could be killing your brand. And no one wants that!

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

Determine which social media platforms are most used by your customers and focus your efforts there. Each platform has its nuances, and your team should be adept at navigating these.

For an idea on how we do this, check out one of my recent ‘Brooke Bytes’ series on LinkedIn where I break it down:

Implementing an Effective Communication Plan

Consistent Voice and Tone

Establish a consistent voice and tone that reflects your brand’s personality. This should be maintained across all customer interactions on social media.

Crisis Management Plan

Develop a plan for managing crises or negative feedback on social media. This should include steps for quick response, escalation procedures, and methods for resolving issues effectively.

Utilizing Social Media Management Tools

Invest in social media management tools that allow for efficient tracking, responding, and analyzing customer interactions. These tools can help in managing large volumes of messages and provide valuable insights into customer behavior and trends.

We use and love Sprout Social, but there are numerous other social media management tools that also have a focus on CX.

Integrating with Other Business Systems

To provide a seamless customer experience, integrate your social media platforms with other business systems like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). This allows for a unified view of customer interactions across all channels.

For example, Sprout Social now integrates with Salesforce, which is one heck of a solution for making your social CX approach an omnichannel power house.

Sprout Social Salesforce High Res

 

Tactical Training for Your Social Media Customer Service Team

Ensure your social media customer service team is well-trained in the strategy you have developed and the tools that they’ll be using. This includes understanding the goals, the intricacies of each tool they’ll be using, and how their role fits into your broader business strategy.

Regular Monitoring and Adapting

Social media is a dynamic environment. Regularly monitor the effectiveness of your strategy and be prepared to adapt as necessary.

This could involve adjusting your approach based on customer feedback, changes in social media algorithms, or new trends in digital customer service.

Over and above that, you may consider our social media Mystery Shop as a way to ensure your social media customer service team is following your processes seamlessly!

Measuring Success

Establish metrics for measuring the success of your social media customer service efforts. This can include response times, customer satisfaction scores, resolution rates, and overall engagement metrics.

*There’s a whole chapter dedicated to this in my book — Chapter Eleven: Metrics and KPIs!

Adjusting Strategies Based on Feedback

Regularly review performance data and customer feedback to make necessary adjustments to your strategies. And please, DO NOT forget including those other teams and departments I mentioned earlier in this post!

Ready to Hire Your Social Media Customer Service Team?

Building an effective social media customer service team is a dynamic and ongoing process. It requires careful selection of personnel, continuous training, strategic planning, and the use of technology for efficiency.

By focusing on these key aspects, you can ensure that your team not only meets but exceeds customer expectations, thereby strengthening your brand’s presence on social media platforms.

Above all, your social media customer service team is not just a support function; it’s a vital part of your brand’s voice and identity.

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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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