Customer service continues to be a major social media initiative for B2B companies, but not every customer service rep is ready to represent your company or brand online. Social profiles are usually managed by marketing, public relations or even an outside agency, and often customer service personnel are charged with responding to product issues and service inquiries.
Studies have shown that people who complain on social channels are already dissatisfied with the response they received through traditional service channels (phone and email). This means that online responses need to be carefully composed to effectively answer the customer. While it is sometimes necessary to take the conversation offline, it can also be important for others to see the details of the situation. Frequently customer service reps are familiar with the customer and their issues, so it is less about solving the problem, and more about discussing it in a public space.
The following five points can help evaluate who in a customer service department can be initially responsible for creating and posting responses on social profiles.
1. They Have a Facebook Profile
Even though over half of the US population is on Facebook and it seems like everyone has a profile, there are still people who don’t. But just having a profile is a start for a customer service rep. Someone who is interacting with customers online needs to understand how people communicate on social networks. There is much less formality and often people post comments to get a reaction. If someone misses the tone of a post, they can respond inappropriately.
2. They Have Strong Writing Skills
Often customer service reps are hired for their people skills, their telephone skills and their ability to follow a script to resolve a situation quickly. Responding to customers in writing, whether in email or online, requires a different set of skills. Reps need the ability to combine standard answers with a customer’s specific problem in a clear and concise way. A simple writing test can determine how someone would respond online.
3. They Have Strong Product Knowledge
A good customer service rep must understand the product to be truly effective in responding to customers. Due to length requirements of online commenting, it is important to be able to write succinctly about product issues. It is much easier to discuss something briefly if you truly understand it. It is also likely that customers discussing products online, especially technical products, may have a deep understanding of product specs and functionality. Reps need to be able to interact at that level.
4. They Understand Public Perception
A good customer service rep understands that every response, whether it is made via phone, email or online, can be shared with the world. This is true in both positive and negative interactions. As that information spreads across other networks, the perception of others is shaped by that information. People who have worked for the company for a long time can sometimes be challenged by this significant change in their world view.
5. They Know They are on the Front Lines
No matter how much content and company messaging your B2B company puts out through traditional and online methods, an interaction with a customer service rep, even responding on a social profile, can completely change a customer’s opinion. If many B2B purchases are about relationships, make sure the customer service team is part of the relationship. Sometimes large companies have dedicated customer service teams to their largest customers, and this supports the relationship. This approach is about more than service. It’s about the relationship with specific people as well. Even in one time interactions, customer service reps are the company.
What are other ways to know if you B2B employees are ready for social media?