Smart Use of Social Media in the Contact Center
When I am speaking or consulting regarding Social Media Customer Support or Social Business, a few of my favorite questions that I almost always receive are:
Who should own social media in a company?
Should we be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and every network?
There are so many risks of allowing social media in our contact centers, how do we support it and protect ourselves?
Here are my typical answers:
Social media is a tool, plain and simple.
- Nobody should “own” the tool. The phone system is a tool, you don’t see Marketing asking the Customer Service team for permission to use the phone. – Understanding how to use the tools is more important, as it is a discipline or competency.
- I have lots of tools in my toolbox, including hammers, saws, screwdrivers (manual and electric) wrenches, and so on. It doesn’t mean one tool is better than another, it is just serves a different purpose. – Use the tools that your customers are most active on, and prioritize.
- Your company’s use of email, chat, and phone can be as viral as a tweet or a video now-a-days. Your organization needs to understand social business, the benefits and risk avoidance are just too great.
So where do you start, and how do you use social media in a smart way?
In my presentation, 5 Steps to Set Up a Social Customer Service Team, the first step is to “Get Yourself Involved”. The reason to get yourself involved is simple, education and understanding is power – power to effectively deliver amazing internal and external results, and to mitigate the risks of such a ubiquitous tool. So let’s get started getting you started. (I will begin with the assumption that you have already influenced others in your organization for the need of social media education. If you need more info, feel free to contact me or here are two articles that may help – Top 5 Reasons Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Media Wave & The Next Innovation in Social will Come from (wait for it) … HR.
Step 1: It’s Not a Lonely Job
Use of social tools in a vacuum is about as dangerous as the young child in the blog post image. Gather the potential impacted stakeholders – Marketing, PR, Human Resources, Legal, Product, etc…, and explain your goals and obtain their points of view. Here are a couple things to think about:
- Do you already have a company communication policy in place? If so, social media tools usually fall under the same categories as phone calls, emails, IM, and other channels. If your organization has strong, articulated values, they should also be your guiding force.
- What is your company’s voice? For example two great service companies – Tiffany & Co and Zappos – with incredibly different engagement voices.
- Ask how your significant workforce can help them achieve their goals? Recruiting, promotion, brand recognition, SEO, thought leadership, employee morale, etc…
Step 2: Start with the Big 3
There are so many social media tools to become educated about, but my advice is to stick with the Big 3: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
LinkedIn: Unless you or your associates are planning on staying with the company for the rest of their lives or there is no possible risk of layoffs or downsizing, LinkedIn is the most important professional network out there. With almost 200 million professionals on LinkedIn, it is an incredibly powerful networking tool.
- Help your associates build a strong LinkedIn profile, and don’t be afraid they will suddenly leave because they have a profile out there. If they leave, it is because of something you are or are not doing internally.
- Help them get connected. Suggest individuals in the company for them to connect with, for that matter, have them connect to most everyone in your company. You never know when a new relationship will be made.
- Help them find Groups to join. Groups are an incredible way to meet people in similar industries or like interests. Great work related questions are asked every day on LinkedIn, and people love the different perspectives people can provide.
Facebook: Just about everyone and their grandmother have a Facebook account, almost a billion people have one, and that is why it is important for your associates to understand how to use it for business purposes. Here are a few of my tips on Facebook for business:
- Don’t be friends with people you work with. I know that sounds so contrary to the LinkedIn advice, but perception is reality, especially without context. Facebook does not typically provide much context on why you may have a crayon sticking out of your nose.
- Like a brand (maybe say … Yours) – Ask them to Like a few brands to see how companies are using Facebook to connect with their fans. Ask them to Like your brand. Have them compare engagement. They may even find out about what your Marketing department is saying to the customers who are 5 minutes away from calling you upset over a wording choice.
- Have them create a business page on Facebook. It’s simple to have them walk in the shoes of the company, by creating a business page for a real or pretend small business “that they own”. It will provide a different perspective to Facebook.
Twitter: Maybe the most misunderstood social media tool out there. Yes, some use it to tell you they had a peanut butter sandwich today, but many more use it for personal growth and business purposes. I would even say that Twitter has had more impact on my own personal development than any other tool (social or not) in the last 5 years. Twitter allows you to connect to the smartest people in virtually any industry or interest you have. Here are a few ways you can get up to speed on Twitter.
- I think my former employer Constant Contact did a phenomenal job outlining the basics of Twitter (and many other tools) in their Social Media Quickstarter. It provides a great step by step on how to set up and use Twitter.
- Have them do a Twitter search on your company. Let them see if your customers are using Twitter for customer service and talking about your company or competitors.
- Have them find like tweeters. You can use Twitter’s search capabilities or site’s like Listorious to find others who are interested in what they are interested in. Most of the smartest people on the planet create content, and most of them use Twitter to let their audience know new information is available.
Step 3: Focus on Continuous Learning (as opposed to Training)
Follow up with your associates on what they have done on social media and if they are continuing to use any of the sites they learned about. If you have seen a place where you can provide affirmative or constructive feedback, give some timely feedback. As their knowledge grows, the benefits and reduction of risk grows exponentially. Another step may be to expand their knowledge, such as:
- Interaction with blogs and blog aggregators (like Google Reader or Flipboard)
- Check out Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, or whatever is hot that week. Have them teach others what the tools do.
- See if other departments (like Marketing) would like to have a blog written by a support associate to provide the backend perspective.
Education how to use social media tools, makes your organization less dangerous and potentially can allow themselves to be empowered to grow. The benefits and risk mitigation are great, by just including your associates in learning how to use the tools. Otherwise, you may have a bunch of screaming, hammer wielding non-carpenters with some dangerous weapons.
Are you educating your associates about social media tools? What is working and what is not? We’d love to hear your comments.