Essential Items For Your 2016 Social Customer Service Policy

clarabridge_blog_01-11_engagor_social_customer_serviceSocial customer care is no longer a competitive advantage– it’s become a necessity. As more and more companies take on a social customer care program, you must keep your social customer service policy up to standard to get ahead of the game.

Which essential elements should you include in your social customer service policy in 2016?

1. Identify The Agent Who Is Handling

Even if Twitter’s character limit expands beyond 140, every word (and even every punctuation mark) will still count. Make it part of your social customer service policy to have your agents “sign” their replies with their name. This way, your customers will know who they’re talking to. Responses are more personalized when agents add their names or initials at the end of each tweet.

Some other items you can include to make your conversations more personalized:

  • Address every customer with their name (if possible) and greet them with a simple “Hi!” with every first interaction.
  • How are customers talking to you? Try to use the words and expressions that would resonate with that specific customers while still remaining true to your brand.

2. If Possible, Move Conversations to A Private Room

This won’t really come to a surprise: customers value their privacy– a lot. The huge uprise and continued success of messaging apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger that marked recent years prove that customers value one-on-one conversations without the whole world to see. Especially when it comes to sharing private information! Customers really love to chat one-on-one and the same goes for having a conversation with a business. So if possible, move conversations to Direct or Private Messages. Especially on Twitter, DMs allow conversations to flow smoothly and openly. You can bet on it– your customers will really appreciate your efforts in understanding what they really need.

3. Set SLAs For The Number of Replies

In 2016, it will be even more important to value your customers’ time. Try to limit the number of replies to only two per customer case. First, acknowledge the complaint or question. Second, come back to that customer and resolve concerns. Don’t feel bad when you fail to meet your SLA. Setting SLAs for the number of replies will serve as a framework to help you quickly problem-solve complaints. Your agents are only human and some questions are more complex than others, requiring you to do more legwork than normally.

Bear in mind that, although your customers are multi-channel, it’s unacceptable to redirect your customers to another customer care channel (e.g. chat, email, phone, etc.) while you’re in a conversation. Customers don’t care how you handle complaints behind-the-scenes and involve multiple departments to resolve a case. They only care about being helped out with a personalized, high-quality service. If a customer reaches out through social first, directing him to email is a definite no-go!

4. Rethink Your Rules of Engagement

There are many situations where you need to apply your rules of engagement in a strict manner. Several Engagor customers filter out profanity (e.g. swear words) and trolls because it’s part of their rules of engagement not to respond to those kind of conversations. Don’t let profanity or trolls clutter up your inbox, nor invest your time and energy in responding to them.

Keep in mind that data that includes profanity or trolls can be valuable to report on. For example, in the case of trolls, you still need to keep track of that data if you want to take legal steps.

Conclusion

If your business wants to truly reap the benefits of a social customer program, make sure you understand your customers’ needs and wants. Change or add elements to your social customer service policy as you go. Make it your mission for this year to strive towards excellence. As many brands have taken on a social customer care program, it will be the small details that make you stand out.

The post Essential Items For Your 2016 Social Customer Service Policy appeared first on Engagor.

Social Customer Care New Year’s Resolutions For 2016

engagor-blog-12-10-2016As 2015 draws to a close, people are not only reflecting on the past year, they have started looking to the future. They’ve started creating 2016 to-do lists, finalizing their budgets for the upcoming year, and anticipating the trends for the new year in the hopes of having a leg up on competition.

We’re excited to welcome the New Year too! But before you go off to your families and friends to celebrate the holidays, plan what your strategy will be for next year. To help,  we’ve compiled a list of top customer care team resolutions for 2016 to inspire you to create your own.

1. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One (Twitter) Basket

In the early days, Twitter was king of social customer care. Recently, we’ve noticed more and more companies starting to focus on other channels too. Multichannel customers value one-on-one conversations and prefer to be helped out through the channel of their choice. While it’s really important to be really good at one thing (instead of doing an okay job on other channels), for 2016, decide to broaden your horizon, take the plunge, and take on customer care through other social channels. You can no longer just provide the service you yourself are comfortable with– you need to bring your A game.

2. Make Customer Feedback Really Meaningful

Now that you’re starting to get social customer care right, it’s time to really start differentiating yourself. Good social customer service is great, but taking it to the next level and delivering on a superior customer experience is even better. So what does this mean for your business? Close the loop with your customers! Use the valuable customer feedback you gather through social to anticipate your customers’ wants and needs. Instead of trying to win the hearts of your customers each conversation at a time, make sure you can gain a real competitive advantage by understanding the customer journey.

3. Become Truly Customer-Obsessed (Even If You Think You Already Are)

In 2016, instead of focussing on vanity metrics, focus on the KPIs and analytics that really matter, and discover and resolve underlying issues your customers are struggling with. Create useful dashboards, send out tailored reports across the board, and host frequent meetings with other departments to share knowledge within the team. Instead of claiming you’re a customer-centric organization, actually be one.

4. Help Your Customers Help Themselves

This past year, you might not have given your online support center the love and care it needed. Make it a top priority on your 2016 to-do list to update your support pages and provide quality self-service support. Increasingly customers are solving their issues on their own. Doesn’t this sound like music to your ears? Imagine how many dollars you’ll be able to save too.

When planning for the next year and making your New Year’s resolutions, prioritize on your customer first–no matter what industry you’re in. Make sure you have the valuable information about your customers gathered through social at your fingertips so you can understand their wants and needs, and become obsessed with delighting them at each touchpoint.

The post Social Customer Care New Year’s Resolutions For 2016 appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care

blog-image-12-02-4-Steps-to-MaturityWhen brands take on a social customer care program, they are often eager to dive in straight away. Hold it right there! There are many important steps and details to take into account before getting into the nitty-gritty.

One of the many things companies struggle with when kicking off social customer care is handling the large volume of incoming mentions effectively. Once they start monitoring and determining the keywords they should search for, they notice they’re pulling in too much volume and noise. Soon, their social media inbox will start exploding.

You can’t expect yourself to be great at everything at once. That’s why you need to start simple and take it step by step. That doesn’t mean things should slow down. Once you notice you are able to handle a step with success, you’re ready for the next level and can take it up it a notch.

Step 1: Monitor your own social profiles. First and foremost, you need to start tracking what’s coming in from your own social profiles and grasp the volume of questions and complaints you get from customers reaching out to you directly. Connect your own social profiles to analyze when (at what time of the day/during which specific days in the week) your customers reach out the most to your brand. This way you can also determine when you need to be active on social.

Step 2: Search for hashtags. Next, once you’ve become successful at handling mentions directed at your own social profiles, start adding in hashtags to your keyword search. For example, you can search for your own specific product models (e.g. for specific car models, kitchen supplies, etc.) or the different brands within your company to further determine the scope of how your customers are talking to your brand. When you start searching for hashtags, you’ll notice you’ll probably track a lot more noise. Here’s where you need to determine closely which type of incoming messages need an action and which do not.

Step 3: Monitor for brand mentions. Beyond tracking ‘@mentions’ and hashtags, you can now also search for people mentioning your brand. Similar to searching for hashtags, you will pull in a lot of noise too. It’s simply a matter of excluding certain keywords to track those conversations that really matter to your brand. This is a trial and error process: if you notice the data is irrelevant, take a step back and adjust your keyword search.

Step 4: Monitor for (other) relevant keywords. Now that you have a full overview of how people are talking to your brand, you can start tracking conversations proactively. You might even discover potential sales opportunities. Searching for specific keywords relevant to your industry can also be useful to start detecting crises. For example, if you’re a cosmetics company, you can search for keywords such as ‘mascara’, ‘skin products’, and ‘skin care’.

Taking it step by step allows you to tackle the volume of incoming mentions that are relevant (which can be daunting for many brands) in a meaningful way. If you start monitoring for all relevant keywords all at once, you’ll probably struggle with keeping your head above water. If you really want to win at social customer care, you have to be patient, have a proper strategy in place, and stay agile to to tweak your keyword search at all times.

The post A Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Your Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

Best Practices For First & Second-Line Social Customer Care

first second line customer careJust like in a traditional customer care team, the terms “first and second-line support” for social customer care have recently gained attention. As more and more businesses take on a social customer care program, the way companies structure their team and optimize their workflows becomes more refined. Social media best practices, like having gatekeepers who optimize SLAs for social care purposes and measure handling time, are the talk of the town in organizations that win at social customer care every single day.

First vs. Second-Line Social Customer Care: What’s The Difference?

Agents in first-line/level social customer care are social media-savvy and know how to respond to customers in a language that resonates with them. They live and breathe the brand and know when their replies are off-message. They have enough knowledge about support to answer recurring questions or deal with complaints that have a short resolve time. Usually, if a question requires more technical knowledge and exceeds the know-how of first-line support, second-line social customer care agents are available to step in and dig deeper into the problem.

That’s why second-line/level social customer care agents serve as assistants to first-line support. They know the ins and outs of the product and/or service on an in-depth, technical level. Once second-line support figures out the solution to a particular complaint or query, it’s up to first-line support to take over again and respond to the customer in a way they understand, regardless of what the complexity of the answer might be.

First-line social customer care agents are coached on tone of voice and basic product knowledge, whereas second-line customer care agents’ focus will be more on on-the-job training about technical product knowledge. On a related note, some businesses might even call in a third line/level social customer care. This is useful in situations with very technical questions, such as the automotive industry.

4 Steps to Make First & Second-Line Work Together Perfectly

Below, you can find some examples for industry best practices for first and second-line social customer care.

Fortunately, first and second-line can really work hand in hand on social. There are four steps to making that sure both levels of support are attuned to each other to be able to deliver fast response and handle each question with the same level of confidence.

  1. If first-line level receives a technical question through social for which they lack the technical know-how, they will add a note to it with some context about the questions. “This question goes beyond my limits, can you take a closer look into this?”. In some cases, first-line support already knows the questions and they simply want to double-check the answer. Keep in mind that it’s very important for first-line agents to immediately acknowledge the complaint or question. Respond right away and let your customer know you’re looking into the issue.
  2. In the next step, that same first-line agent adds a tag (or label) “Second-Line Support” to that message, which automatically routes it to the inbox of second-line support (which replaces the ‘ticketing’ system in more traditional means of customer service).
  3. With their expert product knowledge, the second-line social customer care agent handles the case on a technical level. Once they have come up with the solution, they add an additional note with the complete reply and add another tag ‘Technical Reply’ to the message. This way, the message is pushed back automatically to the inbox of first-line customer care.
  4. The message, with a note attached to it with a more technical reply, lands once again into first-line’s inbox. A first-line support agent uses the technical information and replies to the initial question or complaint in a language that resonates with customers.

Note: By adding the ‘Technical Reply’ tag, social customer care team leaders can easily report on that specific tag (or label). By reporting on that specific tag, you can, for example:

  • Detect if there’s an evolution in the complexity of questions and complaints on social
  • Analyze how many questions are being pushed to second-line support and determine the workload for both teams
  • Figure out whether you need to hire extra people for first or second-line support based on the evolution of the amount of questions first vs. second-line
  • Discover underlying, recurring technical issues (e.g. mistakes in product manuals, website errors), and close the loop with your customers!

It’s clear first and second-line customer support have many advantages. Although many companies aren’t there yet, we want to challenge companies to rethink the way they structure and organize their social customer care efforts. The distinction between first and second-line customer care helps capitalize on the individual strengths of each customer care agent. By making the proces more well-defined, companies can optimize handling time time for each incoming message.

The post Best Practices For First & Second-Line Social Customer Care appeared first on Engagor.

Best Practices For First & Second-Line Social Customer Care

first second line customer careJust like in a traditional customer care team, the terms “first and second-line support” for social customer care have recently gained attention. As more and more businesses take on a social customer care program, the way companies structure their team and optimize their workflows becomes more refined. Social media best practices, like having gatekeepers who optimize SLAs for social care purposes and measure handling time, are the talk of the town in organizations that win at social customer care every single day.

First vs. Second-Line Social Customer Care: What’s The Difference?

Agents in first-line/level social customer care are social media-savvy and know how to respond to customers in a language that resonates with them. They live and breathe the brand and know when their replies are off-message. They have enough knowledge about support to answer recurring questions or deal with complaints that have a short resolve time. Usually, if a question requires more technical knowledge and exceeds the know-how of first-line support, second-line social customer care agents are available to step in and dig deeper into the problem.

That’s why second-line/level social customer care agents serve as assistants to first-line support. They know the ins and outs of the product and/or service on an in-depth, technical level. Once second-line support figures out the solution to a particular complaint or query, it’s up to first-line support to take over again and respond to the customer in a way they understand, regardless of what the complexity of the answer might be.

First-line social customer care agents are coached on tone of voice and basic product knowledge, whereas second-line customer care agents’ focus will be more on on-the-job training about technical product knowledge. On a related note, some businesses might even call in a third line/level social customer care. This is useful in situations with very technical questions, such as the automotive industry.

4 Steps to Make First & Second-Line Work Together Perfectly

Below, you can find some examples for industry best practices for first and second-line social customer care.

Fortunately, first and second-line can really work hand in hand on social. There are four steps to making that sure both levels of support are attuned to each other to be able to deliver fast response and handle each question with the same level of confidence.

  1. If first-line level receives a technical question through social for which they lack the technical know-how, they will add a note to it with some context about the questions. “This question goes beyond my limits, can you take a closer look into this?”. In some cases, first-line support already knows the questions and they simply want to double-check the answer. Keep in mind that it’s very important for first-line agents to immediately acknowledge the complaint or question. Respond right away and let your customer know you’re looking into the issue.
  2. In the next step, that same first-line agent adds a tag (or label) “Second-Line Support” to that message, which automatically routes it to the inbox of second-line support (which replaces the ‘ticketing’ system in more traditional means of customer service).
  3. With their expert product knowledge, the second-line social customer care agent handles the case on a technical level. Once they have come up with the solution, they add an additional note with the complete reply and add another tag ‘Technical Reply’ to the message. This way, the message is pushed back automatically to the inbox of first-line customer care.
  4. The message, with a note attached to it with a more technical reply, lands once again into first-line’s inbox. A first-line support agent uses the technical information and replies to the initial question or complaint in a language that resonates with customers.

Note: By adding the ‘Technical Reply’ tag, social customer care team leaders can easily report on that specific tag (or label). By reporting on that specific tag, you can, for example:

  • Detect if there’s an evolution in the complexity of questions and complaints on social
  • Analyze how many questions are being pushed to second-line support and determine the workload for both teams
  • Figure out whether you need to hire extra people for first or second-line support based on the evolution of the amount of questions first vs. second-line
  • Discover underlying, recurring technical issues (e.g. mistakes in product manuals, website errors), and close the loop with your customers!

It’s clear first and second-line customer support have many advantages. Although many companies aren’t there yet, we want to challenge companies to rethink the way they structure and organize their social customer care efforts. The distinction between first and second-line customer care helps capitalize on the individual strengths of each customer care agent. By making the proces more well-defined, companies can optimize handling time time for each incoming message.

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