From Social Support to Social Customer Engagement

Customer support through Internet social channels is certainly not something new. It has been around for more than a few years now, with bulletin boards, forums and other open discussion sites being the original set of channels companies used. What has changed is the role of the people monitoring those discussions on behalf of companies. The community manager, mostly a marketing role in many companies, has now evolved into a more robust role, that of the Social Customer Engagement Agent.

Social Customer Engagement Agents (SCEAs) sit at the intersection of customer support and marketing. Customer service and support is indeed the “new” marketing. A good, hopefully great, experience is the only thing that keeps customers coming back to a brand nowadays, in many ultracompetitive industries. Therefore, SCEAs have a dual responsibility for monitoring social networks (increasingly through software to that effect), reacting to customers concerns, comments, rants and issues preemptively, leveraging the power of expert users and promoters help resolve issues and questions directly, but also carefully caring for your brand online with every post and interaction.

What does this mean exactly for Customer Support or Customer Success organizations? Well, it means that the people in charge of your social media support cannot have the same training/mindset/skills of support engineers responding to support tickets on e-mail or picking up support phone calls. The discussions are markedly different, and not necessarily issue or problem specific. Although it is plausible to have hybrid agents who do both, you should also consider specialized SCEAs, budget permitting, that provide those dimensions of online social literacy and CX/branding sensibility while engaging with customers. That said, the function of SCEAs is not magic, and must be designed and managed as an operation of its own, process and policy included.

Finally, here are some helpful facts about social networks, as it applies to customer support:

According to Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Library Survey (September 2013): 71% of online adults use Facebook, while 18% of online adults use Twitter.

Facebook is the preferred channel when it comes to social media support.

The demographics are:

90% of 18-29 years old use social media, while 78% of 30-49 years old and 65% of 50-64 years do.

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