A common question many call center leaders have to consider is whether to insource or outsource customer service. The question is grounded by discussions of cost and efficiency. To be clear, outsourcing is the practice of contracting work to third-party companies. Of course, insourcing refers to assigning that same work to internal employees.
The most common form of outsourcing occurs with customer service tasks such as inbound call service or outbound sales teams.
When the work in consideration involves your company’s digital servicing needs (chat, email, social media) you should be prepared to make an informed, strategic decision. This is especially true with social media servicing since there are inherent risks. To do social media servicing your agent has to be equipped with advanced skills and some form of empowerment. Many companies will only allow senior-level employees to access social media accounts for customer service tasks. Why?
A Public Platform
Social media customer service can come in one of two basic forms: public and private conversations. Either way, like all digital service, your agents are replying with words that are typed into the endless Internet. When you let someone reply on social media for your company, you’ve put them on a stage with hundreds of thousands of people. To let someone with basic social media skills manage a public platform is risky.
For this reason, you may choose to insource your digital services to senior employees who know your company product or service and have access to make higher level decisions. This strategy is not always cost effective. Your company will now have a small team of tenured and higher-paid FTEs that are dedicated to your digital channels. If you choose to make your digital service 24 x 7, the cost can outweigh the benefit.
You may decide to create a multi-channel agent who can serve customers by phone, answering incoming chats from your website, answer social media inquiries, and reply to emails. This can be a cost-saving measure. However, the problem occurs when agents are moved into the multi-channel role before they are able to adapt to company knowledge and the specific channel they were initially assigned to. This results in a breakdown at the customer-facing level because the agent is distracted by balancing the logistics of the channel with basic knowledge and the ability to communicate in writing.
A Matter of Skill
When you designate someone to manage your social media channels, you want to feel confident that your company is represented in the best light with each interaction. Because of this, I recommend separating the social media service function from the rest of your customer service channels. Here’s why:
1. Social Media Anxiety
Generation Z is comprised of those born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. By 2020, this group will make up 40% of all customers. This group uses social media en masse. Yet, they are anxious about social media channels. Consider these statistics gathered by Small Biz Trends regarding Gen. Z and social media:
- 35% say there’s too much negativity on social media
- 26% say they’re not interested in the content they see
- 22% say they want more privacy
- 18% say social media is too commercialized
- 17% say it makes them feel bad about themselves
With a large customer base feeling like social media affects them negatively, yet still using it, your social media servicing team needs to have the skills to overcome the negative perception of social media engagement.
Your social media servicing team needs to respond quickly to incoming traffic. With 40 percent of customers expecting a response to a complaint within one hour, you cannot afford to have a multi-channel agent on your social media channels.
To provide effective social media service, your agents will need to have full focus on the task at hand. This is especially necessary when considering the nature of a social media servicing reply. That focus needs to come from someone who has advanced skill sets and advanced knowledge.
Consider the following example of losing focus. An employee forgot to log out of the corporate Twitter account before posting this personal update:
This is one of the many risks of insourcing social media customer service. Specifically, when you assign a multi-channel agent, you will have to mitigate the inevitable risk involved.
The Challenges of Insourcing Social Media Service
Every call center has three basic pools of employees: basic agents, advanced agents, and omni-agents. Your omni-agents can take on the multi-channel position. I like to break it down this way:
I recommend assigning agents with advanced skillsets for social media servicing agents. An agent with knowledge, skills, and the ability to thrive within the social media environment will get your customers engaged and even convert some into advocates when done right.
However, there are certain challenges to insourcing your social media service channel. Inevitably, you are taking agents who have been trained to service private channels (phone, chat, email). These agents have not been trained to reply publicly. If you place an agent on social media without any form of social media service training, your company is at risk. Consider some of these other obstacles to insourcing your Social Media team:
- Finding top talent can be hard
- It Is more expensive compared to outsourcing
- There Is more stress Involved In skilling up your employees
- Finding talent can take time
Outsourcing Can Make Sense With The Right Company
Outsourcing your company’s social media servicing to the right company is a strategic move that can save you both time and money. And, the ROI in customer loyalty is well worth the effort.
At SPS DGTL, we provide you with access to multi-lingual agents with advance knowledge and skillsets that will lend to your company’s social media servicing efforts. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!