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How to prepare customer service teams to deliver a top-notch social media experience in 2021


Presented By: Majorel

Author: Estelle Wienk, Global Research and Solutions Manager at Majorel  

Companies have had to increasingly focus on social media as part of their strategy to serve up an amazing experience on customer-preferred platforms for interacting with brands. Then when digital acceleration took off in 2020, it caused companies to have to quickly establish new digital capabilities for engaging with customers. Just in March 2020 alone there was a 21% uptick in social media usage. As social media presences and e-commerce continues to grow in 2021, there is now a greater need to properly structure customer service around social media platforms. While many large brands already have dedicated teams for handling messages from customers, companies of all sizes still struggle to find the best way to manage great customer interactions while consistently meeting new or existing productivity KPIs in the coming year.

Organize Representatives for Success Based on Volume 

Having a customer service team that works on managing asynchronous channels (social media), where conversations require a reply within 15 to 20 minutes, means representatives should be flexible in their availability to respond to this near-live channel with the ability to handle non-live channels when needed. Representatives could easily switch between other tasks when social media volumes are low, leading to better cost-efficiencies. Alternatively, with dedicated teams focused on social media, you have the benefit of leveraging specialized talent leading to higher quality output. A caveat is that this set up is only efficient with high volumes.

To help with forecasting and scheduling customer service teams, companies should track daily volume patterns on social media channels. Important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will allow this to happen are the percent of messages that required a response and the Average Handling Time (AHT) associated, as compared to the messages that only required a direct action (e.g. tagging) and the AHT associated to that. Understanding these needs will enable companies to schedule and manage shifts more accurately.

For times of lower volumes, companies should staff according to opening hours and target response time. With rising customer expectations around response times, social media is considered to be a live channel when scheduling staff. Eighty percent of companies respond within 24 hours, but 85% of customers expect a response within six hours, so customer expectations should be the standard for scheduling accordingly.

Many social media teams also deal with high volumes of ‘noise’ (messages that do not require a response but need to be tagged for insights). Fortunately, many social media enterprise solutions offer automatic routing and tagging options that pre-filter messages based on agreed rules. Then, spam is filtered out and only messages that require a response are routed to the response team, which is a win for team productivity.

Create a Stellar Social Media Customer Service Team 

Surprisingly, the best performers on the customer service team aren’t necessarily the best fit for the social media customer service team. While some skills are universal when it comes to this role, the social media customer service team requires unique attributes for helping customers on digital platforms. Representatives with exceptional written communication skills who are emphatic, proactive, and creative with the ability to self-manage are a good start to building the right team. These representatives also need to be passionate about engaging on social media and understand different types of users, cultural references, and current trends.

Regional as well as subjective language understanding is crucial on social media. When a representative doesn’t catch a certain expression or (subtle) sarcasm, it can have a big impact on customer relations. For this reason, the best choice is usually a representative with the same native and cultural background as the region they’re servicing. For team members that speak the language but haven’t actually lived in the country they are servicing, they will need additional cultural training and guidance from a cultural native.

Important Social Media Indicators to Measure in 2021

In addition to KPIs that help with scheduling social media customer service teams, it is important to track specific indicators that help determine how successful you are in meeting your goals on social media. Below are four key areas to be aware of:  

  • Brand awareness: Measured by follower growth, engagement, and reach, which all stand out as important success metrics.
  • Brand reputation: Captured by response time, resolution time, customer satisfaction score (CSAT) and sentiment.
  • Brand loyalty: Tracked by following conversations about your brand, engagement and CSAT.
  • Conversion: Monitored by follower growth and conversion rates.  

There are also KPIs that show whether customer service teams are able to fulfill customer expectations and provide quality interactions. Using the following list as a guide, companies can define which KPIs are the most relevant to showing how well customer service is performing:

Productivity KPIs   

  • First response time: Time elapsed between initial customer messages and initial replies from the customer service representative.
  • Average response time: Average time elapsed between all customer messages and representative replies. Social media is an asynchronous channel, so multiple messages are sent in a conversation.
  • Case resolution time: Average time elapsed between initial customer message and final message to resolve the issue.  

Customer Experience KPIs   

  • Customer sentiment change: Change in sentiment as a result of brand interaction. While individual sentiment is important to track, it doesn’t show the impact of efforts. The impact is being able to see and quantify the change from negative to positive sentiment as a result of an interaction.
  • CSAT: Customer survey to measure how satisfied the customer was with the interaction. However, the timing needs to be just right—it should only be deployed after the issue has been resolved. If a customer inquiry spans multiple channels, it is more common to have a general CSAT survey that accounts for the experience in social media. The survey setup needs to be short, easy and mobile friendly. To account for unbiased responses, the survey must be prompted using preset rules and sent to the customer via private message.
  • Engagement per interaction: Total likes, comments and shares of an interaction. It’s important to highlight which interactions generate the most engagement with your community.
  • Conversion rate: The amount of sales generated through traffic coming from social media. By using unique links in customer interactions, brands can track if that interaction actually led to a sale.  

To ensure customers are responded to quickly, customer service teams must actively monitor all social channels daily. With the right escalation paths in place for more widespread issues such as backlash to a product release, customer service teams will be able to spot potential pain points before they become an issue. Social media teams are the front line for direct, public customer feedback, so open communication, adequate staffing, and insightful scheduling will prepare them for quick action and the company for long-term success in 2021.