Thursday, January 23, 2014

15 Competencies for Delivering Effective Social Customer Service

Image courtesy of Frau Holle
Have you been looking for an instruction manual that guides you through the trials and tribulations of implementing a social customer service strategy?

Look no further. Have I got a great book for you to read! I just finished Delivering Effective Social Customer Service: How to Redefine the Way You Manage Customer Experience and Your Corporate Reputation by Martin Hill-Wilson and Carolyn Blunt. Martin sent met the book a while back, and I'm excited that I finally had a chance to read it.

Martin and Carolyn do an excellent job of touching on a variety of topics to help you get on your way with developing and implementing your social customer service strategy. The book is an engaging read, and you'll find yourself thanking them both for writing it all down in one place!

One of the things that I found extremely helpful in the book is the framework they propose to create a roadmap for how you will execute on your strategy. They present the framework as an assessment that includes 15 competencies to deliver effective social customer service. You rate each competency on three criteria. It's a great resource and a smart exercise that you can do yourself or use with your team to begin the buy-in and alignment process.

The competencies include having...
  1. A social customer service strategy that fits into a broader service strategy and social media strategy.
  2. The right leadership and development model that optimizes our impact in social customer service.
  3. An effective way of listening to social mentions of our brand and can accurately categorize those that need a response.
  4. A level of integration between social and traditional that allows you to deliver the intended customer experience.
  5. The right people on the bus, as a result of knowing how to recruit, train, and manage social customer service teams.
  6. Alignment between social customer service competencies and traditional ones, e.g., culture, policy, infrastructure, SLAs, etc.
  7. A platform and channel mix that works for our customers and the markets they are in.
  8. A clearly mapped customer journey.
  9. Access to relevant customer service knowledge and using socially-sourced knowledge effectively.
  10. The ability to build and to access social interaction history.
  11. A level of readiness for unexpected volumes of social traffic.
  12. The right balance of metrics the reflect customer priorities and management priorities.
  13. SLAs that outperform the competition.
  14. An understanding of what works and doesn't work on social channels, based on customer feedback.
  15. The ability to learn from social interactions and track improvements.
I love that Martin and Carolyn go into some detail on each of the competencies, outlining why each one is important, issues and consequences of each, how to achieve quick wins, some follow-up action items, and a few additional tips. It's very comprehensive yet not unachievable.

The book also includes a chapter on using Facebook for social customer service and another one on best practices for using Twitter. There's also a great chapter on the legalities of social media, including a section on social media policies for your employees.

Here's a brief video from Martin to give you an idea of what the book is about and why it was written.

If you don't have a social customer service strategy in place, grab this book to help you understand why you need one and how to take that first step. 

Not yet convinced that you need to have a social customer service strategy? Know that there are some things that you need to do - must do - because customers expect them. Or as Scott Monty, Ford's Social Media Manager explains it (in response to social media getting a bad rap for ROI): What's the ROI of a TV commercial? What's the ROI of a press release? What's the ROI of putting your pants on every day? It's hard to measure, but there's negative consequences for not doing it. 

The good news is, the impact of social customer service is not one of those things that's hard to measure. But there are negative consequences for not doing it!

People don’t care how much you know, but they know how much you care by the way you listen. -Robert Conklin


  1. Hi Annette,
    I had an opportunity to interview Martin and Carolyn a wee while ago about their book (

    What I like about their approach is that it is not about technology but largely about people and process. The technology will change but the competencies and strategies needed to address social customer service will stand the test of time. A great book for anyone in this space to have on their shelf.


    1. Thanks, Adrian, for sharing the link to your interview. I agree... the book is really about the people and the process. Nice to have just a straightforward roadmap for how to proceed. Definitely a must-read for anyone looking to define a social strategy.

  2. Annette, I haven't read the book, so I am speaking from a position of complete ignorance (never stopped me before)

    Interesting list of competences, the one that caught my eye was...

    SLAs that outperform the competition.

    It struck me that if you have all the others wouldn't this just be the outcome?


    1. LOL, James... you always know just the right things to say. :-) Great point, though. But I suppose if you set an SLA for yourself, it's a way to measure your success? Or your ability to outperform the competition? I suppose they all work hand in hand.