7 Steps for Better Social Customer Service in 2017

Opinion: Here are seven steps that enterprises can take to meet their customers where they are, on the channels they own

Today’s always-on social consumer is fundamentally shifting how brands are engaging and caring for their customers.

2016 was the watershed year for social channel engagement, especially over messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and Twitter. And 2017 promises to build on that momentum, delivering innovative solutions that simplify the customer-service process while building brand image and improving bottom lines.

To kick off the year, here are seven steps that enterprises can take to build their social maturity and meet their customers where they are, on the channels they own.

Educate

With the prevalence of technology in our daily lives and the number of people using the ever-expanding list of social channels to connect and engage, you’d be surprised to know how many of your customers don’t realize that they can get immediate, personal and human responses from your social care team.

It’s imperative to let them know that you are there, and that they will get a response. It’s now easy to put “Message Us” and “DM Us” buttons on your “Contact Us” pages or in your mobile applications—the best way to drive service volume to effortless social channels that will increase customer value.

Icelandair, Hyatt and Ipsy are just a few examples of global brands making it effortless to reach out to customer care over messaging platforms.

Invest

With billions of people using Facebook, Messenger, Twitter and Instagram, investing in the right technology and people to ensure that social is treated as a primary customer-service channel has never been more vital.

Consumers increasingly expect in-the-moment issue resolution on the same platforms where the interaction is taking place, and meeting these demands requires a savvy response team equipped not only with the technology, but also the personality type and communications skills.

Getting your customer-service staff up to speed with the new tools and methods may take some time, but it will deliver serious dividends.

If you are just getting started, it’s a good idea to establish business goals and create a playbook. Many large companies start this way, and finding the right partner with experience in social customer service is key. Here is one example.

Be human

Social media is powerful because it enables a direct, authentic connection. Your customers are there because they want a genuine, human response—not corporate, robotic replies on repeat. And they are much less inclined to willingly wait on phone hold for extended periods of time.

Give your agents the freedom to be creative in their responses. Let them be real, engaging, funny, witty and human. Your customers will love you and reward you for it.

Engage

Once agents have the training and freedom to be authentic and engaging, make the most of their skills. In any downtime from handling service issues, enable them to find and engage with customers proactively, jumping into general conversations taking place about your brand on Twitter or in an Instagram thread. You’ll increase customer advocacy and find opportunities to prevent certain customer issues before they even happen.

JackThreads is one example of proactive engagement, with results indicating that the vast majority of Twitter users respond positively to a surprise conversation with @JackThreads.

Innovate

Social has been sitting in a silo for too long, and for too many companies, it still maxes out at shallow engagements, with real issues reserved for traditional channels that are costlier and of lower quality.

Innovation in 2017 is about integrating social channels with your core customer relationship management, enabling you to fully resolve all issues in-channel and ensuring that social agents have the same data and capabilities as for any other contact channel.

The best customer experience is a personalized experience.

Analyze

Big data analysis is yielding vast amounts of critical customer insights that enable smart prioritization and more efficient processes, cutting down on response times and overall time to resolution.