Nowadays, a social media channel is a part of any organizations’ customer service. It doesn’t replace traditional customer service channels. It’s, in fact, becoming an increasingly important part of an organization’s overall approach to serving and communicating with customers. It won’t replace call-center channels, such as telephone or e-mail, but rather become yet an additional channel.
Many organizations start out by treating social channels as a part of marketing or corporate communication efforts. But with any kind of volume in the social media channels, the focus rapidly changes, viewing it as a customer service and support channel.
The sooner you begin adding the full range of interactions and channels into your customer service operations, the sooner you’ll be able to scale resources and respond as opportunities unfold. This, however, requires workload forecasting and staff planning.
When you start forecasting social media, you may not have years of statistics to rely on. Look ahead as far as possible, and, like weather forecasting, think “partly cloudy,” or “sunny,” and consider as many variables as feasible. Observe patterns and start acquiring knowledge, seeing how customers act in the social media channel for which you’ll forecast and schedule. Finally, “dress” for any kind of weather, building flexibility and scalability into your staffing plans.
What’s positive is that you’ll quickly build up your knowledge and a forecast. If you’re using a tool that collects data, you’ll soon have a forecast.
When you do the scheduling, be sure to think of different variations. For example, you need to plan for agent handling interactions when they are initiated − with rapid responses in real time. Some inquiries or issues don’t require an immediate response but rather, a response at the right time; for example, posts on the company’s Facebook site. In this scenario, staffing is response-time oriented, similar to e-mail or outbound contacts that are scheduled.
Social channels are providing a significant opportunity to shape services that differentiate, build the organization’s brand, and ultimately impact positively on customers, employees and the organization. Be where your customers are and don’t be intimidated by these new interactions. Your organization is probably more ready than you think. With the right planning approach, you’ll be able to take it into stride the same way you did with other types of customer contacts.
Make sure, however, that you have a strategy for how you want to handle the customer contact in social media, who in your organization should handle it and that communication is transparent.
Head of Professional Services