How to prepare customer service teams to deliver a top-notch social media experience in 2021
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
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
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
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.
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
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:
- First response time: Time elapsed between
initial customer messages and initial replies from the customer service
- 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 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
- 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
- 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.