5 Key Components of a Social Customer Care Training Program

Once you’ve hired the right people to be the face of your social care program, it’s time to train them. This may overlap with existing customer service training in your organization, but there will need to be some added elements that are specific to social care.  Here are 5 key components of an effective social customer care training program:

1) Your Core Business

Social customer service agents need to be a “jack of all trades”. Unlike many other customer service agents who may be able to specialize in one area of the business, social care agents will need to act as “super-agents” – knowing at least a little bit about every part of the business, and knowing whom to call when the questions get especially complex.

You’ll want to quickly expose them to the company’s products and services, preferably with leaders from different business units presenting live and answering questions afterward. You’ll also want to give them an overview of your industry and direct competitors, as many customer service inquiries will compare your company’s product or service to that of a competitor. While it’s generally not a best practice to talk about your competitors in social media, it is critical that your social care agents understand how your offerings are superior (or in some cases inferior) to competitors’ offerings.

2) Most Frequent Inquiry Types

In most companies, the same questions emerge over and over again in customer service. Teaching your social care employees about the most frequently asked questions will save you (and them) time later when they start to see these repetitive questions from prospects and customers. Many of these will be basic questions that require basic answers, such as:

  • What are your store hours?
  • What is the price of this product or service?
  • How do I enroll in your program?
  • How does your product or service work?
  • Can I check on the status of my order?

Agents should be able to quickly answer each of these questions and/or direct a customer to the right place on your website to find the answer (this latter method can be helpful to others who scroll through your social feed because they may find the answer to the same question without even having to ask it).

3) Internal Systems and Policies

It’s very important that all new employees understand the systems and software that will guide their day-to-day work, so take the time to thoroughly train them. It’s a good idea to bring in a representative from your social care technology provider to run the training. Agents should thoroughly understand how to claim a post, tag it appropriately (usually with business or inquiry type classifications), answer the customer’s questions, and close the inquiry.

New agents will also need to learn about complementary systems and software, which may include your CRM or account management system, Microsoft Office products, e-mail and instant messaging software, your company’s intranet and Knowledge Base resources (containing FAQs, terms and conditions, etc.) and more. Don’t forget to also train your agents on the digital properties that your customers use, like your website, Account Center, and mobile app.

4) Social Media Platforms

Take the time to walk though each social media platform that your company is using, explaining both the general mechanics of each one and the customer service-specific tools and processes. The difference between the platforms, including their nomenclature (posts vs. tweets vs. pins, friends vs. followers, etc.), is critical to understanding consumers’ expectations of your brand in each platform. Your social care agents need to be fluent in each channel’s functionality, audience type, etiquette and eccentricities (the most obvious one being Twitter’s 280-character limit) that will affect how customer service is performed.

This training doesn’t end at a new employee’s orientation. Social media is notorious for changing on almost a daily basis, and your front-line agents need to be up-to-speed on new features and functionality. There is so much change at the major platforms that it’s a good idea to hold monthly sessions with your agents to ensure they know about the latest technology and functionality.

5) Public Customer Service

Performing customer service in public is much different that performing it on the phone. Traditional customer service agents are used to a one-to-one relationship with the customer; that is, the conversation is private between only two people. In social media, that is clearly not the case because there is always an audience. So while it is important that the agent still try to establish a one-to-one relationship with the customer – personalizing the conversation with the customer’s first name and leveraging available customer information from social media profiles or the company’s CRM – the agent must also think about what others will perceive about the conversation.

Agents must thoroughly understand that everything they post is public, on behalf of the brand, and can be shared to a wider audience. A good rule of thumb is to ask of every post whether the company would be OK with it appearing on its own website. If yes, then the post is fine. If there are concerns, then you should look to re-write the post.

Social customer care can be fun and rewarding, especially when the company is customer obsessed and it already has a lot of fans. Customers love hearing from brands on social media – it makes them feel important and loved, and they will often share those good feelings with their friends and followers. But public customer service can also cause reputational risk to a company if it’s not done correctly – if agents aren’t properly trained or if posts aren’t properly monitored. If you’ve trained your agents well, you can enter the world’s most public customer service channel with confidence that you are helping to improve customer experience and brand reputation.

About the author

Dan Gingiss
Keynote Speaker, Author at |

Dan's 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including social media, customer service, marketing, and digital customer experience. Dan has hands-on experience as an executive at multiple Fortune 300 companies, including as the Senior Director of Global Social Media at McDonald's Corporation, the Head of Digital Marketing at Humana and the Head of Digital Customer Experience & Social Media at Discover Card.

Dan is the author of the new book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. He also co-hosts the Experience This! podcast with Customer Experience expert Joey Coleman, and previously hosted the Focus on Customer Service podcast.