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It goes without saying that it’s important to respond to customers on social media. Far too many marketers don’t do it, but there are platforms that can help.

Social customer care is a core requirement of business. For most, this means building up the capability to both listen for opportunities to serve customers on social channels as well as the ability to respond.

And while many brands do this, too many customer posts are still left unanswered. Researching this, Maritz and Evolve24 looked at 1,298 Twitter complaints and found that only 29 percent got responses, which people generally appreciate receiving.


To address this, social teams are increasingly turning to engagement platforms that allow measurable performance, providing the equivalent of call-center process tracking for social channels. (Disclosure: The firm I work for, Lithium, makes one such platform.)

The nearer social channel performance measurement gets to established best practices for both customer management and agent performance against timeliness and productivity standards, the more likely firms are to invest. Carry that forward, and the balance of customer care resolutions happening in community and social channels will continue to shift as self-service and asynchronous social support is selected by customers and supported by brands.

Issues challenging social teams and operational leadership include processes still based on ad hoc tools – the use of various native UIs, for example –  when engaging on social channels, driving support and training costs while making actual performance measurement difficult. Switching to a more robust engagement management platform can help, and as noted many firms do this.

But as customers switch toward social channels – driven by their desire to self-serve, or to seek service on their own terms and schedules – the complexity and volume of inquiries arriving on social channels increases. Again, research shows that this increasing complexity reduces agent effectiveness in meeting (Read more...).

This is where an alternate strategy may help: in particular, the use of your own internal subject matter experts to assist agents.

The subject matter experts inside your own organization may be an untapped source of assistance for agents. Almost incredibly, 70 percent of the typical workforce feels “disengaged” with the purpose, intent of the businesses they work for. Additionally, across the board, firms use less than 40 percent of the skills they employ.

How are these related? Given the complexity of customers’ questions and the difficulty that even the best agents can face adequately answering them, the untapped knowledge present in most firms is an opportunity waiting to blossom.

The question, of course, is “How?” Subject matter is distributed throughout the organization, and have skills that may not be immediately obvious. By comparison, the social customer care team is specifically trained, and addressable if not located in a defined unit.

Linking the two requires a process that allows agents to easily connect with these subject matter experts while also making it just as easy for your subject matter to self-identify.

To do this, many social teams rely on “cheat sheets,” those lists of email addresses grouped by help topics that agents can come to rely on. But to support scalable processes, you’ll have ensure that both agents and experts are able to connect without the use of such cheat sheets.

These sheets not only go out of date, they overload the experts by failing to distribute requests for assistance across your broader skill base. To resolve both of these, look for an engagement platform with tools that allow agents to easily request help without requesting a specific expert. The platform should also allow experts to both self- select and opt in to the specific help topics they are personally interested in and qualified to help with.

Think eHarmony for customer support, on steroids. These platforms exist; adopt one.

So to up your social support game, take a look around your organization and consider resources outside of the customer care team as you build your engagement and support capabilities. Make better of your total skill base and you’ll create better customer experiences in the process.

That’s how you win.

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