How to Create Epic Social Media Customer Service: Do You Have a Game Plan?

While most of today’s brands have mastered how to respond to customers through social media, it’s definitely time to take it to the next level. At our July 26 webinar, How to Create Epic Social Media Customer Service,” HGS VP of Product Marketing Lauren Kindzierski and HGS Leader of Social Media Operations Amanda Sternquist presented some ground rules for how to:

  • Achieve fast response times.
  • Use AI to weed out non-actionable posts.
  • Use automation to route the right posts to the right team members.
  • Train agents to spot a post that is a brand crisis waiting to happen.
  • Tap into the creative brand voice.
  • Decode the voice of the customer in the social media space.

At our webinar, Lauren and Amanda measured the social media pulse of attending brands, starting with Poll One, “What is your number one challenge managing social media today?” The majority of attendees—58%, responded “lack of processes and strategy,” which gets to the heart of the popularity of our webinar. The next common response showcased the requirement to balance need with available talent—significantly, 38% of our attendees answered “volume of social engagements vs. resources.” Finally, 8% of our attendees cited a “lack of tools and technology” to optimize their social media customer service.

The need for guidelines to properly develop a social media solution is there, according to our Poll Two: “Does your company have a playbook for social media?” In fact, 50% of our attendees stated these standards “still need developing,” with 31% responding they have a playbook in place, and 19% with no such social media foundation from which to build.

Social media analytics are still low-hanging fruit for optimization of service, according to our Poll Three, “Do you leverage text analytics to decode the voice of your customer in social,” with a surprising 67% of our attendees not currently employing analytics to this positive CX outcome, and only 33% putting this strategy to work for them.

Following the webinar, our social media experts answered pressing questions from attendees:

Q1: What is a typical first response time for epic service in social?

Amanda A: The industry standard is under four hours. We strive on most programs for an initial response time in fewer than two hours. That’s really why we are able to use AI to pack those responses to an agent. For example, if someone is in the moment, they are at a store or they are at a restaurant right now and they need help, we prioritize those keywords to hit our queues first so that we can respond back within seconds or minutes depending on what the need is.

Q2: How do you determine the volume of social engagement and the number of resources needed?

Amanda A: During the research phase of a new program, we will do a deep analysis of what the content trends have been over the past several months. And that will give us an idea of the volume. From there, we will start to identify what’s most important for you to have us respond to. If the answer is “everything,” then we will strictly go off that volume. Or, if we can narrow that down a little further, it will give us a good idea of how many people would be covered in a steady state. Then we always train social care agents across multiple programs. That way they can quickly jump in to meet the need of a PR crisis or some sort of a ramp.

Q3: What about negative comments? For example, “I hate xyz product”. What are your recommendations on handling those types of comments?

Amanda A: The goal for us is to try to understand what it is that the customer hates and whether there is an alternative that we can recommend to them. Or, is it a situation where we can report back to the client and note that there is certain volume around this, and it may be a one-off. Or, we could identify that it’s actually a trending issue, and the client might want to reconsider a certain area of the process of developing that product. That’s why post tagging is so important, because it helps us gather the insights and quickly generate a report. We’ll always first reach out to the customer and try to find out why and what we can do to resolve their dislike of the product.

Q4: How do you get upper level management to understand you just can’t dip your toe into the water with social media? Customers want transparency. Yet, the problem for my team is that upper management does not want to inform customers of anything negative for fear of this showing up on a Google search in the future.

Lauren A: I am asked that question all the time. And not just with social care, I’m asked this about most new, emerging channels – text message, chat, self-help, or any digital initiative. The answer is that it really comes down to making the business case. If you can present your upper leadership with quantitative examples – if you can pull the volume of posts that are happening within your brand, then break that down by brand or by product, you can compare that and ask, “Would you ever not answer the phone to address these issues?” After all, customers are our number one asset. At the end of the day, if they are calling you and you are not answering, that’s a poor reflection on the brand. We need to make sure that we are addressing needs and complaints. You need to show that, for example, last month there were 562 complaints related to this particular brand or model number. And this is what was being talked about, and this is all public. You need to make sure that you are responding to the issue, and addressing it and capturing those efforts.  

Q5: How do you manage a PR crisis?

Amanda A: The first step is identifying a potential crisis. It’s all about training the agents to understand what types of things have potential to go viral and then having a strategy in place before it does. Realistically 9 times out of 10 you can’t prevent something from going viral. It’s going to happen. But what you can do is have a solid response strategy for managing the result or the implications of it going viral. What’s truly critical is understanding what posts have the potential to go viral, and if they do—what’s your game plan?


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