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Wanted: Agents with the inherent skill and agility to respond to social customers in 30 minutes or less, and dazzle them in 140 characters or less.

Up until relatively recently, social customer service reps were considered purely mythical beings – like Santa Claus, or home agents who bathe regularly. However, with customer demand for support and service via social media rapidly growing, social customer service agents (let’s call them SCSRs to save us all some time) have become a reality.

A necessity even – at least in organizations that aim to stay ahead of the competition and keep the number of viral tweets about their poor or non-existent social customer service down to around zero.

What this means is that contact centers that haven’t already done so need to start recruiting and hiring viable SCSRs, or at least to start thinking about doing so. Of course, they can’t do such things effectively until they learn the “anatomy” of an SCSR. What does an individual who deftly monitors and smoothly handles customer inquiries and tirades via Twitter, Facebook and other social sites “look” like? What skills and traits do they require to not only survive but also thrive in the social role?


Key Attributes of an Ideal SCSR   

Following are five things to look for in agents worthy of maintaining your contact center’s “social” life:   

Social savvy. You want reps who not only have active accounts across a broad range of social media, but who also communicate relevant information in a tactful manner via such media. Take a look at each SCSR candidate’s personal Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you see that they have a habit of posting inane or offensive updates, or if they appear to have had multiple infractions of “TWI” – Tweeting While Intoxicated – they’re probably better suited for your IT team than for your Social Customer Service team.

Built-in ‘analytics’. An important aspect of social customer service is being able to determine which customers (and potential customers) to engage with – and how. While some of this should be covered in SCSR training, you want reps who have the intuition and logic needed to make smart social decisions on their own. A good SCSR must be able to quickly analyze and assess customers’ social inquiries, comments and rants, and then provide customers with the answers, explanations and verbal sedatives they need.   

Excellent (and efficient) writing skills. Social savvy and keen analytical skills won’t mean much if your SCSRs write like somebody who failed fifth grade English composition. Don’t assume an agent knows how to write just because their job application and resume featured only minor spelling and grammatical gaffs. A good SCSR not only writes clearly and succinctly, but also conversationally. It’s called social media, not corporate media or academic media. Customers like and expect social responses that are casual yet professional, not rigid and robotic.

A customer service soul.  Even someone with exceptional writing skills will fail in an SCSR role if they don’t truly care about and eagerly want to assist the customers with whom they interact. It’s more important to be courteous and empathetic than captivating and clever in the social customer service sphere. Captivating and clever is nice in small doses, but it won’t get you far with customers who are on the brink of bringing your brand to its knees with a flaming Twitter campaign about how your service makes them want to a learn a deadly martial art.    

Multichannel agility. I know, I know, you thought we were talking only about agents who deal with social customer interactions. But the truth is, a good SCSR doesn’t deal in tweets and posts alone. Often, interactions that start off on Twitter or Facebook need to be quickly moved to chat or voice – particularly when the issue/inquiry in question is a complex one that requires the customer to provide detailed and private information, or when the customer is fuming and using language more fit for drunken sailors than for public consumption. Furthermore, it’s likely that the volume of social media contacts your center must handle won’t be large enough to keep SCSRs busy their entire shift, thus, it’s good to have ones who are able to hop on the phones or don their chat hat and rock the customer experience regardless of channel.    

Did I miss anything big? Please share your SCSR “anatomy” lessons in the comments section below.



2/21/2014 07:12:50 am

Greg,
A good list. I'd add multi-tasking since its a fast moving world. They need to fix stuff so have to be empowered and probably part of an extended improvement team so they need to look out for solutions. Social has a reputation for a more human touch. That said its also made in public on behalf of the brand. So advanced comms skills. They are different so the implication for management style has to be considered, Less command control for sure.
Just a few thoughts
Martin

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2/21/2014 07:30:50 am

Great input, Martin. Few folks know the social customer service scene better than you. (I encourage anybody who's reading this to check out Martin's book -- "Delivering Effective Social Customer Service" -- which he co-wrote with Carolyn Blunt. Find it on Amazon.)

Thanks for taking the time to share your expert insight!

Best,

GL

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CĂ©line
2/23/2014 09:08:42 pm

Personality is a very important attribute for the role: reps assigned to social media support should not be afraid of speaking up on behalf of the company in front of a virtual audience of thousands and should have that edge or spark. They should be fast-thinking and take initiatives. They should also have a strong sense of judgement that will help them decide how to respond and what tone to use. And finally have a sense of humour too to diffuse tense exchanges online with customers.

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2/23/2014 10:17:21 pm

Couldn't agree more, Céline - of course that's easy for me to do since you supported most of what I had stated in my post. ;) Great point about the need for social reps to have a sense of humor. Appropriate comic relief can be a savior when a customer is out for blood.

Thanks very much for reading and for sharing your thoughts!

Best,

GL

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5/5/2014 04:58:34 pm

nice post

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12/21/2016 10:11:48 am

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Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable information .
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