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3 Myths Around Effective Customer Support on Social Media and Mobile

Most support calls over 8 minutes are generally seen as a bad customer experience. In general, many people would assume chat/social handle times to be lower.
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Over the past few months, we’ve fielded questions from several companies trying to understand how productive their agents should be for mobile/social media customer service.

While many companies have built impressive social networks and digital marketing initiatives, social media customer service strategy is difficult to master. Up and coming text-based channels bring a level of uncertainty around customer care and best practices for your customer service team, potentially impacting the effectiveness of your social media marketing as you lag on answering questions from potential customers. As you look to launch additional customer service channels such as SMS, chat, and support on social media platforms, below are 3 common myths to dispel.

Myth 1. Chat handle times should be lower than voice:

On average, most support calls over 8 minutes are generally seen as a bad customer experience, often leaving a considerable amount of negative comments and affecting the overall customer service experience.

From the surface, many people would assume chat, tweet, and other social media channels' handle times to be lower, given the ability to handle multiple conversations at once.

As a matter of fact, a global Live Chat report estimates an average chat service interaction handle time of 12.5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed by this figure. The benefit of text-based support is that customers can take their time to respond to companies.

This works in the agent’s favor, as they can tend to a new customer while waiting for a response.

Chatdesk’s take: Focus more on quick response times (under 90 seconds) to service requests, rather than the overall handle time. Set clear guidelines for your customer service reps around the types of conversations and customer issues to be handled over text vs. another channel (i.e. a call center reaching customers via a phone number)

Myth 2. Agents can handle up to 5 social/chat conversations at once:

A key benefit of text-based service in social customer care over voice is the ability for agents to handle multiple conversations simultaneously, ultimately driving your cost per conversation down and improving your social media presence.

For example, HP reports that social media customer support agents can handle up to 40 percent more customers per day than phone agents.

We recently had a conversation with a customer service professional who heard that agents were able to handle 5 customer interactions at once. While this may be true for experienced agents handling transactional questions such as account/shipping queries, this should be seen as the exception and not the norm.

For those new to text support, customer support managers will need to monitor the number of chat/social conversations customer support team members can handle without negatively impacting response times and customer satisfaction.

It’s safer to start with a lower number of concurrent chats and adjust based on the complexity of the conversations being handled.

Chatdesk’s take: Stick to 3–4 conversations for your agents in the beginning. Based on agent response/handle times, consider adjusting the number of service responses up or down to limit agent errors and prevent customer complaints.

Myth 3. Social Support agents should not handle other channels:

Managing multiple customer support channels can be very complex.

Intuitively, you may believe it’s best to have dedicated customer service agents for each channel. Many justify this decision to reduce agent confusion across channels and limit errors in real-time service.

However, depending on the volume of conversations per channel, this approach may not be sustainable. Nowadays, across your Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn, as well as mentions of your brand and direct messages on all of these platforms, there are too many avenues for customer support that structuring dedicated teams may be costly and ineffective.

Jeremy Watkin, customer service expert and featured columnist, recently completed a study on agent staffing and found that only 25% of companies had agents dedicated to doing just chat. The other 75% were cross trained to handle multiple support channels.

The general consensus around customer service strategy is that agents should focus on one channel at a time, but be flexible enough to support other channels during down periods (e.g., chat agents to assist with other text-based channels like email in between conversations).

There are also a handful of social media monitoring tools and customer service tools that can make the transition between channels a lot more simpler and easier for your support team (e.g. Hootsuite, chatbots, knowledge bases, and listening tools).

Chatdesk’s take: Train your agents to be comfortable with multiple service channels. Create a flexible workforce management system that allows agents to move to other channels and across social media accounts during peak times.

Do you have any additional myths to share? We would love to hear your thoughts so please reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss more.

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