8 Tips to Reduce Social Customer Care Response Times

The value of social customer care has been widely researched and discussed, from driving loyalty, to enhancing brand reputation, to lowering operational expenses by reducing call center volume. However, one of the most critical components of successful social care is a challenge that many brands are still scrambling to solve: reducing response and resolution time.

Consumers want answers right away—whether they have a question, complaint, or urgent request. They don’t want to wait 24-hours for an email to be read or to be bounced around a phone system pressing “4” then “2” then finally, “0” desperately trying to reach another human. The reality is, brands with deep, cross-channel customer support structures have changed consumer expectations.

At its core, social care is not all that different from traditional customer service. Yes, the evolution of technology is continually shifting consumer expectations. But at its core, social care should be personal, knowledgeable, and helpful. Above all, it needs to be fast.

How can brands with limited resources, lean teams, and siloed systems (CRM, helpdesk, customer support, and social) create faster and more effective care interactions with their customers?

1. Be Human

People  want to interact with other people, not automated systems. Social allows care agents to quickly connect with consumers in a personal way. By showing empathy for the consumer and their issue, care agents have an opportunity to further diagnose an issue, which can lead to quicker resolution, while also improving brand perception.

2. Acknowledge Immediately

Even if the answer isn’t readily apparent, or if the customer needs to be redirected to another department or channel (due to personally identifiable information requirements or other sensitive information), it’s important to let the customer know that you are on the case, that your brand cares, and that a resolution is coming.

If possible, provide a timeframe for full response and stick to it. It’s okay to have some back and forth, especially with a complex scenario, but you can lose all that initial goodwill if it takes two days to resolve the issue.

The Dutch Airline, KLM, widely lauded for their exceptional traditional and social care, updates their Facebook cover image every five minutes, notifying fans of the expected response time to issues and questions on their page. Before the customer’s question has even been posted, they are already managing expectations.


3. Stay on Channel

While there will be times when conversations need to be taken offline, it’s best to respond to issues publicly, and on the same channel where the inquiry is made. While many brands are providing dedicated social support channels (i.e. “@BrandHelp” on Twitter), pushing someone from one channel to another is never a good idea. This creates confusion and frustration and will exponentially increase resolution time.

4. Yes! We’re Open

If you’re like most brands and can’t provide 24-hour social care support, make sure that your channels have clearly listed, easily accessible “hours of operation.” For off hours, make sure to list your brand’s other contact channels, along with links to other helpful information.

5. Build the Right Team

Your social care team is the voice of the brand. They should be armed with the proper tools and training, and tested against any number of scenarios. I’ve found that brands have the most success by either integrating social experts into the traditional call center to handle social inquiries, or transitioning and training members of the call center for social response.

Either way, there should be tight integration between traditional customer service programs and social care, as benefits can be found for both teams. For example, an issue identified through the call center can be routed to social care who in turn can get out in front of the issue through either a proactive post, or by arming social care agents with messaging around the issue. This can reduce not only response time, but volume of inquiries through social and traditional channels as well. 

6. FAQs and Pre-Approved Messaging

When I started out as a community manager, I quickly realized that we were receiving the same questions over and over and over again across all our channels. For most brands, you can, with relative ease, narrow down to about a half dozen questions that will be received from customers on a daily basis.

With that knowledge, a list of FAQs and their responses can be developed, approved, and housed in a content library for quick deployment. This can drastically reduce response time and costs and improve the efficiency of your social care team.

7. Know your Customers

While every customer interaction should be treated with care and thoughtfulness, understanding who your customers are and their value to your company can help prioritize responses and determine how individual cases are handled.

Does this person have a wide footprint in social? Are they a brand advocate who in turn might help answer other fan questions? What is their current level of satisfaction with the brand? Having this social profile information can help the brand respond more efficiently and effectively.

Similarly, one of the best ways to reduce response and resolution time is to understand when your customers are most active on social and most engaged with your channels. On what days are your customers most active? At what time? On which channels? If you are staffed to provide support on Monday – Friday from 8am-5pm, but the highest volume of customer complaints happen on a Friday night at 11pm, you are taking a full 48-hours to respond to that complaint. This data can inform resource allocation and help reduce response time.

8. Arm yourself with the Right Tools

Having the right tools and technology in place only makes the team stronger, more effective and more efficient. Our new whitepaper “Understanding Social Care” shares how top brands like Brooks Brothers, General Mills, and Hyatt are delivering world-class social care. It also provides a helpful guide for evaluating solutions to address the deluge of customer requests.

Solutions that optimize response times through the use of monitoring, categorization, filtering and automated routing, along with approval workflows and strong measurement and reporting capabilities can greatly improve and speed social care efforts.

At its heart, social care is customer service, and it needs to be managed both quickly and thoughtfully. Slow response times, or simply leaving questions unanswered is the quickest way to make customers feel devalued and frustrated. Bad social care can be worse than having no social care at all.

While speed of resolution is quickly becoming the golden ring that all brands engaged in social care are trying to grab, it should not be at the expense of quality interactions with your customers.

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Ray Rahmati is Spredfast’s lead social business consultant in the Mid-Atlantic region, serving our customers’ needs with everything from strategic guidance to planning and training. He is also a professional and college sports fanatic and second-screener who can be found tailgating on any given Saturday or Sunday.