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Customer Service: Automated, Templated, or Customized

by Randall Craig on February 3, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media

Tagged as: , ,

Many organizations struggle with setting up a social media (or email) response strategy.  How do you trust front line staff to answer properly, if they don’t know the policies?  How do you have a consistent response, no matter who responds, or when?  And how do you minimize service costs, while maintaining service quality?

One thing is certain: if you don’t get your social media (or email) response strategy right, there will be complaints: they don’t care about me.  They are unfair. Why were you able to do it for so-and-so, and not me? And worse, these complaints will be made public on social media, crowding out the impact that your organization was hoping to make.  Poor service response is the ultimate anti-marketing strategy.

While I have written before on scenario planning and social customer service, here is how to start:

  1. Custom responses:  For the first three months, have a more senior person answer any queries, based on the applicable real-world policies.
  2. Template responses:  At the end of this time, analyze all of the responses, and create the “top-ten” pre-written template scenario responses.  These can be delegated to front-line staff to use; any issues that go beyond these questions can be escalated.  Periodically, these additional escalated responses can be added to the knowledge base for front-line staff use.
  3. Pre-empt with FAQs:  The template responses can also be cycled back into the website in the form of FAQs, thereby reducing user frustration (and possibly also reducing the need for any interaction at all.)
  4. Automate:  Technology can be used to identify issues, delegate, improve efficiency, and track social media-based service requests.  It can also be used to auto-respond to emails with suggested answers. (We don’t recommend using technology to auto-respond to social queries though: the risk is too high.)

This week’s action plan:  Every organization has a different front line:  it could be the receptionist, a contact center, a membership services officer, or the CEO’s assistant.  When was the last time you looked at the responses that everyone on the front line uses?  This week, double check that the message that is sent out is consistent.  (And that it is templated, pre-empted with FAQs, and possibly automated.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released “Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business”, and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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