Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. ~ Kevin Stirtz, Strategy Manager (Practical Law) at Thomson Reuters

You most likely already have a presence on at least a few social media channels posting content, responding to your customers and resolving issues. But when considering whether or not to add another social channel to your customer care operation there are a few best practices to think through that can help you avoid any hiccups.

Adding a new social channel is not as simple as creating a handle and advertising that you are now available there. Before you get to that step, you should first determine which channel to add! You should ask yourself:

Are you already active on a specific social channel but not yet engaged in customer service?

If this channel is currently being used for marketing purposes exclusively, then you probably have already received comments and replies on those posts, which presents a perfect opportunity to let your customers know that wherever you advertise on social you will also get your issue resolved. To achieve this, it’s essential to utilize a dedicated customer service tool that can pull in those comments and replies on marketing posts into a unified inbox of incoming 1-on-1 conversations.

What are the volumes of customer messages that you receive on that channel?

If you don’t already have a good idea on the kinds of volumes coming into your currently active channels, then you are missing an essential metric for determining your customer service needs. There’s a big difference in the workflow it takes to answer a few hundred customer service messages compared to a couple thousand. Knowing where you are in this continuum will prepare you for staffing and resource needs going forward.

Can you pull indirect mentions of your brand or filter through the noise to find actionable conversations worth resolving?

Having the ability to pull in conversations surrounding your brand via indirect mentions (not directly mentioning your brand handle) is indispensable to being proactive with your customer service efforts, i.e. “I’m so excited about the new sandwich at KFC”. Engaging in these conversations provides a great opportunity to give value where none was expected, though usually much appreciated. Additionally, having the ability to filter through these conversations and pull in only those you want to dedicate time responding to is another layer of functionality that should be incorporated into your proactive engagement. Learn more about how to launch effective Proactive Service on your social, mobile channels here.

The customer’s perception is your reality. ~ Kate Zabriskie, CEO of Business Training Works, Inc.

Once a new channel has been chosen, it’s imperative to keep the branding and tone of voice consistent with the other social channels you are active on. Consistency conveys to your customer that you have a unified customer service operation regardless of channel. This can be accomplished in a few different ways;

  • Create a tone-of-voice guide to bring all agents up-to-speed
  • Organize pre-made text responses to common questions that can be easily sent as a first reply to an incoming customer conversation
  • Monitor replies through an approval process for new agents before their responses go out live

To accomplish these goals it would be best to utilize a customer service focused tool that has these capabilities built in, like Conversocial.

Next, you must consider the resources available to allocate to this new channel. You don’t want customers thinking that a certain channel is being ignored or has a longer response time after you have advertised that you can now be reached there.

A good way to mitigate this potential misstep is to assign an individual or team of agents to work exclusively in this new channel as it’s getting off the ground. This will guarantee that as customers discover this new avenue for issue resolution your dedicated team will create a positive first impression and prove that you can handle a multi-stream customer service operation. This will also decrease response times on this new channel (instead of throwing these incoming conversations into the mix with the currently established channels incoming volumes).

As each new channel matures and becomes more well known amongst your customers you will then want to unify these incoming conversations with the volumes coming from your other supported channels. This can be accomplished with a dedicated customer service platform that can route conversations into queues for teams and automatically prioritize specific conversations that are urgent customer issues that need a resolution.