Social Customer Care Engages Customers AND Contact Center Agents

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Social customer care is no longer an emerging trend to merely keep an eye on – it’s a burgeoning movement that companies would be very wise to embrace. Much has already been written and said about the increasing customer demand for social customer service and the impact on companies that don’t do a good job of providing it:

  • One in four consumers indicate that they are using social media more and more for customer service. (Source: Harris Interactive)
  • 42% of consumers who contact a company through social media for customer support expect a response within an hour. (Source: The Social Habit)
  • Failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers. (Source: Gartner)
  • Companies with an active customer service presence on Twitter and Facebook are 132 times less likely to be set on fire by an angry mob.   (Source: My sick sense of humor.)

Okay, so I made up that last stat, but there’s nothing fictional or funny about the fact that social customer care is a game-changer. Companies that take it seriously and take the time to adopt best practices are able to captivate and engage their existing customers and greatly enhance the ability to attract new ones.

With everyone so focused on the very big and positive impact that social customer care can have on the customer experience, many companies fail to realize that social customer care can have just as big and positive an impact on the employee experience.

Historically, the contact center has been viewed as a less-than-sexy back-office operation featuring rigid metrics that measure how efficiently staff handle a never-ending stream of monotonous phone calls. Not exactly the kind of environment that screams out “Work here!” to a young workforce that has grown up in the Twittersphere and whose smart phones and tablets have become natural anatomical appendages. But that’s all changing as the contact center evolves into an omni-channel, customer-focused communication hub. Tell a Millenial they’re going to have to handle 75-100 phone calls a day and like it, and they’ll laugh in your face. Tell a Millenial they’re going to get to toggle between phone, email and chat, and they might give you the time of day. Now, tell a Millenial they’ll get to do all that and/or serve as Social Customer Care Experts, and they’ll show up early to start work–and stay late.

The folks in Marketing can argue all they want, but it’s the contact center that’s best suited to handle an organizations’ social customer care strategy. And when the contact center starts to do just that, it greatly elevates and diversifies the agent role – giving agents a new and exciting responsibility in a critically important area. Embracing social customer care is not only sure to increase engagement and retention of existing frontline staff; it will also greatly enhance a center’s recruitment efforts, as many individuals who might not otherwise consider contact center work will jump at the chance to solve problems and serve others via their favorite communication channel.

Among the alluring activities and tasks that today’s social-enabled agent gets to engage in include:

  • Handling customer inquiries that come through the “Ask a Customer Service Agent” feature on the company’s Twitter and/or Facebook page. (Yes, several smart organizations currently offer such service-oriented features on their social sites, with more certainly to follow.)
  • Manning the contact center’s social media monitoring ‘control center’ and engaging with customers that require (or demand) assistance.
  • Posting useful customer-focused content (blogs articles, tutorials, FAQs, etc.) on the company-sponsored social customer community site and interacting directly with community members.
  • Serving on an internal Social Customer Care task force or committee dedicated to bettering social service and customer experiences.

Adding such tasks to your current agent job description (AND doing the legwork required to make sure agents actually get to do these things) is sure to result in a LOT more enthusiasm and commitment among your existing agents, and in a lot more resumes from highly talented job candidates.

And because your center will now be offering social customer service provided by rejuvenated, eager and savvy staff, your customers will be smiling just as much as, if not more than, your agents.

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