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Customer Service

How to Create a Social Customer Care Philosophy

Creating a Social Customer Care Philosophy is the first step to “Winning at Social Customer Care,” as outlined in my new book of the same name.

A good Philosophy will be borne out of your company’s Vision, Mission, and/or Values, preferably with some piece of it originating from the top of the organization which will ensure employee buy-in at every level. It should also include the guiding principles that will enable your execution strategy.

Things to consider include:

Brand Voice: What do you want your brand to stand for in social media? Is your brand funny and irreverent or serious and fact-driven?

Availability: Should you offer Social Customer Care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? It depends on the business you’re in and your customers’ needs.

Languages: Likewise, the languages you decide to support in customer service should depend on customers’ needs. Two things that would suggest multilingual support is necessary are if you are marketing in another language and whether other Customer Service channels offer multilingual support.

Social Media Platforms: Deciding the social media platforms in which you will offer Customer Service can be tricky, but again, focus on your customer.

“Is this person a customer? Yes. Do we care about our customers? Yes. Well, we should support them,” says Sparkcentral CEO Davy Kestens.

Most brands in the U.S. start with Twitter, since the vast majority of Customer Service inquiries in social media occur there and the platform itself promotes the service use case.

Next up is Facebook, which virtually every brand is already on for marketing purposes because it is by far the largest social media platform, but it often places second in the U.S. in terms of Customer Service volume (although many brands report that the more complex issues are surfaced on Facebook because there are unlimited characters with which to describe them).

Depending on your audience, providing Customer Service on LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, WeChat, or other platforms may also be necessary.

Empowering Your Agents: Companies are often reluctant to truly empower their Customer Service agents to solve customer problems because of cost concerns, but this is a mistake. Just be sure to clearly define the “guardrails” for your agents so they’re not giving away the farm in every interaction!

Response Time: This is the time between the moment a customer posts a question or complaint to a brand, and the moment the brand first publicly acknowledges the post. The airline industry as a whole tends to be best-in-class when it comes to response time, so if your goal is to be among the best of the best, you’ll need to respond extremely fast. But not every industry needs to be held to that standard.

Philosophy Examples

A good Social Customer Care Philosophy can be summarized much like a good 30-second “elevator pitch.”

Natanya Anderson, formerly of Whole Foods Market, described the Whole Foods Philosophy like this: “I want people to have such great experiences with our Customer Care team that they want to tell other people about how great the care was, and then how much that makes them an advocate for Whole Foods Market.”

Nicole Miller from Buffer looked at her company’s Philosophy a little differently, but still very effectively: “We view every interaction that comes our way – every single tweet, email, question, mention – as a real privilege to know that someone has taken the time out of their day to think about us or get in touch with us.”

Telstra, an Australian telecom, ran television commercials that boasted this claim: “We care about our customers. And we want to be famous for it.” Now that’s something Telstra’s employees can get excited about!

You can also make your Philosophy more literal, such as this one aggregated from multiple brands:

We will strive to:

Serve our customers in the channel of their choice…

…24 hours a day, 7 days a week…

…with a best-in-class response time…

…addressing questions, compliments and complaints…

…in a personalized manner…

…keeping with our brand voice and personality.

Once you have your team’s Philosophy written down, memorized, and socialized, you are one step closer to “Winning at Social Customer Care.”