Erik Sass at MediaPost.com reported today that Wells Fargo is launching a social media command center and this got me thinking about big business, social media and customer service. Is it possible for a big business to do social media “well”? The key to this is to understand how businesses perform in the area of customer service, since I believe social media and customer service go hand-in-hand for businesses.
If you invest time and money into a social media strategy you may be effective in managing your reputation in the online space; or at a minimum simply understanding what people are saying about you and identifying areas that need improvement. But if you are an organization like Wells with tens of thousands of employees – many on the front line, you have a different challenge. Essentially your front line staff can do more damage to your business than you think. By giving bad customer service, they may be counteracting anything positive you are doing online. Furthermore, you may be frustrating your customers and employees if your social team is faster at acknowledging, triaging and escalating customer service issues. If you do a good job in the social space, more customers will go there to get help – potentially creating more negative sentiment online, and overtaxing your social team. If you send those customers back to the support team, they may not receive the same response times they are used to when going through social.
This is a difficult challenge to overcome, and really hits at the root of customer service – training front line staff so that they are not liabilities to your brand, but rather, they enhance your brand’s equity at every interaction. And good customer service as a tenant of good business has always been prudent.
To conquer this challenge takes time, coordination and a bit of patience. Start by reaching out to your counterparts in various departments to educate them about social media, your mission, and social’s ability to positively impact the business (and improve their lives). You’ll need to do a lot of selling and a lot of training. But a collaborative approach whereby you involve department staff in the social process is an approach that is both effective and well-received at organizations I’ve helped tackle the service challenge. You’ll find champions in each department who will lead the effort with you – and it’s a joint effort. I recommend starting with one or two departments, perhaps with folks that are already doing some social or demonstrate social wherewithal. Then incrementally add on more departments and communicate through regular conference calls and presentations to discuss case studies (successes AND failures) so that you can improve upon your efforts over time.
And, none of this is possible without a really good social strategy and policy – two things you must have in place before looking to conquer the world of social media customer service.