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Customer Care Communications: Critical Support Skills

When it comes to customer care communications, support skills are critical to a positive outcome.

You need to ensure your customer support team’s skillset will serve you. And today, that means not just through phone and email, but through chatbots and social media.

These are the skills to look for with a social-first customer care strategy.

Going From Good To GREAT

These days, great customer care communications go beyond answering the telephone. We’re way past email etiquette, too.

Now that we have social media, and with that, chatbots helping us service our customers at a near 24-7 pace, we’ve got to go from good to GREAT.

Have you ever chatted with a customer service rep and felt they were just going through the motions? Reading from a script? In these modern times, that is no longer acceptable.

Customer Service Care Agents must:

  • Be empathetic
  • Remain approachable
  • Be able to “read” the room
  • Understand context (or ask for it)

On the phone, we’ve heard the expression, “Say it with a smile!” With email, good spelling and grammar are obvious, but so is writing with personality.

With a social-first approach to customer care communications, you need all of the above and more.

Great Social-First Customer Care Communications

As we know, social media moves quickly. Because of this, social media requires a quick response. Answers should also be short and sweet. And personalized.

However, social-first customer care communications go deeper than that! Below are some other skills your team will need.

  • Impeccable response times. Customer Care agents should be able to act quickly and react to customers’ inquiries on-the-fly. Response times should not exceed one hour according to research by Northridge Group.
  • Conversation mindset. Hundreds or even thousands of customers may want to interact with your brand through social media. Your team needs to engage with both the positive and negative mentions. A superstar agent will also be able to detect when a customer is open to an online conversation and then engage.
  • Product specialist. Customer Care agents should be well aware of products, their features, and able to point would-be buyers to the area best suited to help them complete their purchase. Great customer care communications should lead to conversions for your company or brand!
  • Focused on closing the loop. It goes without saying, when a client contacts you through social media, it’s important to meet them where they are. If issues have to get solved through another channel, say phone or email, be sure you bring it back to social to close the loop. “Time to completion” is an important metric for customer care communications.
  • Crisis communication pro. While some messages and interactions will only be aimed at causing provocation or creating problems, others will be mission-critical to address. Whether it’s a delayed order, responding to service issues related to COVID-19, or dealing with larger community issues, like the recent Black Lives Matter movement, your team must be well-versed on handling all crisis communications through social media.

Our advice is to look for team members who have more hospitality or customer support services than social media skills.

Great Chatbot Customer Care Communications

First, supporting clients through a chatbot or live chat can be similar to that of the telephone or email. However, as you probably already know, it goes beyond that.

Here are the skills you’ll want for customer care agents manning your live chat or chatbot.

  • Ability to multitask. This may seem obvious, it can’t be stressed enough. Team members may have to handle several chat windows at once. Not to mention there will still be social media mentions to tend to. Moving from one customer to the next without getting frazzled takes finesse.
  • Wordsmith. Whether it’s coming up with your chatbot’s conversational workflow or managing Live Chat, messages need to be short and concise. Therefore, an agent working with these channels must excel at choosing the right words. Tone and voice must also match the brand!
  • Context solver. Before responding, a good customer care agent should read a customer’s message several times. Looking for the context of their message can help avoid possible mistakes or misunderstandings.
  • Curious. If there isn’t enough context, an agent who is curious will ask the right questions to ensure context is met and a solution can be found.

Support Skills Are Critical

In any situation, support skills are critical for customer care communications. It’s not as simple as letting an intern or even a seasoned social media manager be responsible for your customer care efforts on social.

To sum it up, you must …

  1. Meet your customers where they are. Many times that means social media!
  2. Listen and respond to social media mentions and customer care requests.
  3. Be responsive; time is of the essence! The Northridge Group report found that only 46% of consumers reported the resolution of their customer service needs within an hour. Almost one in ten customers indicated their problem was never resolved. (YIKES!)

Finally, you must ensure your customer care team has the soft skills needed to ensure your customer care communications are not just good, but GREAT!

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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