Understanding When Social Interactions Should Be Resolved in Another Channel

Guest Blogger: Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst at Ovum

Agents need to respond to customers’ social comments and questions quickly and in the right tone. But more importantly, they need to offer resolutions. Customers care most about how long it takes to find information rather than which channel they are using. They choose to use social media because they are comfortable with the channel and it offers a convenient way to communicate. Ideally agents will resolve questions within social media, but they need guidance as to how and when to escalate interactions to a more private channel.

First, businesses should assess the way in which customers are using social media to communicate with them and categorize posts into groups: complaints, feedback, technical queries or more general support questions. They should then consider the types of interactions that can easily be handled within social media and those that need to be followed up in another channel. This will be very dependent on the industry. Examples of queries that can be resolved in social media include

  • Shipping pricing and timeframes

  • Outage updates and resolution plans

  • Flight status information

  • Product stock check

  • Technical support videos or forum posts

  • Availability of facilities

Both customers and agents need to be educated about the types of questions they can expect to resolve within social media. As the channel matures as a customer service tool, it needs to have value other than just as a forum for complaints.

Social customer service agents need the power to start a web chat or phone call

Any questions where customers need to divulge personal details in order to get a resolution will need to be addressed in a private channel: a private social message, web chat, email or phone call. Customers should never disclose their date of birth, social security, credit card number, or healthcare records in a public forum. Flight issues, changes to a booking, billing queries or account updates will all need to be completed via a private interaction.

Agents responding to questions on social media need the ability to start a web chat or phone call with the customer. The customer doesn’t want to have to repeat their question and the agent should be empowered to connect customer records and access account or billing information. These agents will need to be trained across different channels and should be able to view all customer communications in one application. They also need to follow up questions that began on a public forum in the initial channel to make it clear that the issue was addressed.

In order to make this possible, social media needs to be integrated as part of a broader customer service strategy. Irrespective of how many channels are used to complete an interaction, businesses should prioritize customer satisfaction and issue resolution. They need a clear strategy and trained agents that can handle and respond to social interactions.

Follow me on Twitter @diteb


True! Brands should be able to interact with their customers in whatever medium their customers are familiar with. Especially on social media where a single bash from an upset customer can go viral and can destroy your company overnight.

Posted by guest on November 07, 2013 at 12:28 PM PST #

Yes, there are times when resolution requires a little bit more effort and time. Best to have a dedicated channel (or channels) to give ample time to ensure that the client is pleased with the results.

Posted by John Borillo on January 26, 2014 at 07:48 PM PST #

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