6 Steps to The Ultimate Social Contact Center

Contact Center | 5 minute read

Social customer service is a great new opportunity to drive satisfaction, loyalty, and differentiation. Most organizations strive to adopt social media into their contact center, but few get it right.

Social media support is now adopted by more than 85% of organizations according to a recent 2011 TSIA social media survey,  up from under 40% in 2007. However, only 14% describe their programs as “mature.”

The explosive growth of social media adoption among 18-34 year olds is a clear indication that it’s a ‘must’ to stay competitive in today’s market.

Use the following list of comprehensive steps as a guide to effectively support your customers through social media.

Step 1: Identify the Right Channels

New customer service channels emerge each year. Your first step is to prioritize which ones to use in your contact center. The most popular are:

1. Twitter
2. Community Forums
3. YouTube
4. Facebook
5. Blogs
6. LinkedIn

Before you move forward, keep these important points in mind:

1. Identify and prioritize the social channels your customers use
2. Define clear goals and ways to measure your progress
3. Allocate enough resources to each strategy
4. Always get executive-level buy in to support your objectives
5. Start small with a limited set of channels,  and expand as you mature

The following graphic from “Social Media in the Contact Center” by Mariano Tan shows you the channels organizations use from a recent TSIA survey. The most popular, in descending order, are online communities, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Their relative popularity is a function of how easy they are to implement and measure ROI.

Social media support has become mainstream, with over 80% adoption in 2011, up from 40% in 2007.

What about customer service leaders?

Below: “Benchmarking Social Media Customer Service” by Telus, shows us how they prioritize social support.

Most of these leaders, with the exception of Best Buy, have not adopted all channels. They ensure best-in-class status in each channel they use before they expand.

What about specific channel strategies? Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

1. Twitter – “How To Use Twitter for Customer Service”

2. YouTube – “YouTube for Customer Service”

3. Facebook – “Five Tips for using Facebook for Customer Service”

4. LinkedIn – “33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business”

The channels you implement will depend on your objectives, resources, and nature of your customers. Remember to start small and grow one step at a time, just like the leaders mentioned above.

Step 2: Understand Your Social Customer

Know your customers. This knowledge is necessary to build lasting and valuable relationships. It is key to any successful sales, marketing, or customer service effort. It’s no coincidence the best customer care organizations have the best understanding of their customers.

But the social customer is a different beast than your traditional customer. How are they different?

To answer this question, I recommend you read Nielsen’s reports titled, “State of the Media: US Digital Consumer Report Q3-Q4 2011” and “State of the Media: Social Media Report Q3.” These provide a rich set of statistics on today’s social customer.

In addition to 3rd party research, consider creating a focus group to get a direct understanding of your specific customers. You should also build a feedback system that profiles and aggregates statistics about your customers and their interactions from across your channels. Finally, solicit feedback from your contact center agents who are interacting with your customers on a daily basis.

Once you have a clear understanding of your social customers across each channel, share them across your entire support organization.

Here are four relevant pages pulled from Nielsen’s report that profile the social customer:

1. Social Customer Demographics

2. Social Customer Characteristics

3. Social Customers by Country

4. Social Customers by Device

Step 3: Social Media Goals and Metrics

Organizations are at varying stages of maturity with regards to their social contact center. A challenge faced by all companies is how to best measure their efforts using relevant business metrics.

What are your goals? Why are you using social media? What impact are you trying to achieve for your company and your customers?

You will need a set of social key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your progress. While the indicators you use may vary, they should all be:

1. Measured Accurately
2. Relevant
3. Actionable

Start with a limited set of metrics. Avoid investing all your time and resources crunching numbers. What’s key is making sense of these numbers and using them to identify specific steps to take to accelerate your progress.

Social metrics are different than traditional metrics, which can make this step a challenge. I recommend you read “Measuring Social Customer Service in the Contact Center,” by Telus. It is the best report I’ve come across on this topic.

Telus identifies three categories of social metrics:

1. Service
2. Quality
3. Effectiveness

1. Service Measures for Social Care

2. Quality Measures for Social Care

3. Effectiveness Measures for Social Care
Do not try to measure and track all of these metrics. Choose a subset that measures and represents your goals most accurately.

Step 4. People, Processes, Technology

Your social contact center is only as good as the people, processes, and technologies you put in place. A weak link in any one of these areas will impact your overall effectiveness. It is arguably the hardest part to get right and is what separates social support leaders from the laggards.

People are your most valuable asset. You must empower them with the knowledge of your customers, how they should interact with them, and how you will measure their performance.

Senior Executives: Getting buy-in and sponsorship from senior executives is essential to any social care strategy. Get their support by forecasting the impact your strategy will have on the business and supply them with ongoing metrics to quantify your progress.

Managers: Managers need an understanding of your strategic goals and how to achieve them. They need to understand what they are being measured on, how they should measure their support staff, and what processes to follow. A little wiggle room to experiment will offer them the flexibility to determine what works best.

Support Staff: Arguably the most important touchpoint because they’re the front-line agents who interact with your customers. They should be trained in social media norms, and how those channels are different from traditional support channels. Agents should be provided with an easy to follow guide on how your customers use social channels and how to best service them. Appreciation goes a long way, as do incentives. A happy agent typically delivers a better experience than one who hates their job. It is your responsibility to make sure they fall into the first bucket.


The processes you put in place could make or break your social contact center strategy. Clearly define how to communicate with customers, resolve issues, how to measure performance, and how to implement strategic recommendations.


Technology helps you communicate with your customers and measure your performance. It will enable you to:

1. Effectively communicate with your customers
2. Monitor conversations and feedback
3. Provide a rolled-up customer view across communication channels

The rolled up 360 view of your customers is often the hardest point to achieve. Getting it right means you have solid insight across all your touch-points. Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Investing time and resources in this step will pay off.

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