Jolina Pettice

8 Building Blocks to Create a World-Class Social Care Program


We’ve all heard the stories of brands failing and flailing on social media as they try to respond to customer service inquiries.

And here’s why. Most companies are barely set up to meet expectations, let alone exceed them. So when they fall short, they are falling short of the bare minimum, creating friction and negative experiences between the brand and its customers for everyone to see.

Add that to the fact that some companies are doing it so well and therefore aiding an increase in customer expectations. In fact, customers now expect a response in an hour or less after reaching out to a company.  

Social Care Expectations

For the first time at Social Media Marketing World, there were sessions dedicated to building a social infrastructure to enable your company to exceed customer expectations.

In his session, Dan Gingiss, the head of Digital Marketing at Humana, provided 8 building blocks to help marketers create a world-class social care program.

For the following 8 steps, Dan provided a definition for what it is and what you need to think about when venturing out on this sort of initiative

#1 Social Care Philosophy

What is it?

The philosophy you develop should be crystal clear about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. Everything that comes next should leverage the philosophy as a guiding principle and help inform the strategy.

Take the time to first understand your products and/or services. Without a native understanding, any interactions as a customer service group within the organization will fall short.  

What do you need to think about?

  • Availability, what is the capacity to take on social care within your organization?
  • Response time, what is your current response time and what is the goal?
  • What languages need to be accounted for?
  • Social media platforms currently monitored or that need to be monitored.

#2 Technology

What is it?

Put simply, the backbone that allows you to effectively scale social care efforts.

What do you need to think about?

  • What platform do you need, an all-in-one or a dedicated service platform?
  • Investment you are prepared to make.
  • Platform integrations necessary to be successful.
  • Technical and strategic support required.
  • Innovation roadmap from the platform, what are the product updates on the horizon?

Three technology categories to consider:

Free/Mass Subscriptions

All-in-one Enterprise

Dedicated Service Platform

#3 Team Selection & Operationalizing

What is it?

Social Care programs won’t work if they’re created by the marketing team and then handed over to traditional customer service teams. Each team has a different skillset and training and there is a potential for seemingly small mistakes that can have a significant impact if social care is not handled by the right team.

Creating a social care program will often come with the need to hire people and set up the infrastructure to effectively scale.

What do you need to think about?

  • Skillsets / job descriptions, what type of person do you need and what role does the hire fill in your overall plan?
  • Customer service vs Social Media background. If you can’t find or afford to hire someone with both skill sets, understand which one you are getting and have training ready to fill in the gaps.
  • Hiring / Interviewing, determine who is involved in the process upfront to avoid delays after interviewing starts.
  • Organizational structure, where does this fit, who will the person(s) report to?
  • Feedback loop, how and how often will feedback regarding performance of the team be shared internally?

#4 Training

What is it?

Educating the team on the business, philosophy, technology, best practices and channels for creating a successful social care program.

What do you need to think about?

  • Different parts of the business, teams on the front lines of social care, have to know about all facets of the business or at least have a way to quickly find answers.
  • Most frequent types of inquiries, and most common solutions.
  • Understanding of each social media channel.
  • Uniqueness of public customer service, and how to avoid missteps.

#5 Process

What is it?

The steps which enable you to deliver superior customer service and business results, using your philosophy, technology, and people. An effective process should have enough information to keep you safe, but not so much that it slows you down.

What do you need to think about?

  • When to take discussions offline, and how to show the community the issue was resolved.
  • Escalation procedures for a variety of different issues, when to involve PR vs HR for example.
  • Empowering your team to resolve problems and/or provide ‘surprise and delight’ moments.

#6 Reporting

What is it?

Define which KPIs need to be reported to determine team performance, and report up internally on successes and areas of opportunity.

What do you need to think about?

  • First response time, how long is it taking to initially respond?
  • Resolution time, how long is it taking to provide a satisfying solution?
  • Social agent / office performance.
  • Daily/hourly performance, see trends about volume and its effect.
  • Channel performance
  • Post engagement
  • Satisfaction scores
  • Top issues / feedback loop

#7 Integration with Core Business

What is it?

Internal Integration to ensure the rest of the business is hearing the voice of the customer.

Ultimately, you want to make sure your company is using social care as a feedback loop for product development so that your team isn’t continually having to address the same problems.

What do you need to think about?

  • Which areas of the company will benefit from – and use – social feedback?
  • Tracking business response and circling back with the customer even if it’s weeks or months later.

#8 Integration with CRM

What is it?

External integration, and starting to use the voice of the customer to influence that customer’s future experiences with the brand.

For example, Hyatt is able to take the information they know about a customer (a request for a hypoallergenic pillow for example and apply that to all future stays) to create better experiences.

What do you need to think about?

  • Technology, how will you make this happen? What pieces are missing?
  • Data capture, where are the current data inputs and how is that information stored and accessed?
  • Data activation, when is the data triggered and to what department?

Does a Social Care Program Make Sense for Your Organization?

Brands that are responsive and in-tune with customer needs are building brand affinity and trust with customers. Those that are not, will surely be forgotten or discounted if a competitor is responsive. After learning more about the 8 building blocks above, do you think that your organization has a need and the potential to develop a social care program?

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