So, you know you need a social customer service team— where do you go next? One of the earliest questions your team should ask when establishing their social customer service team plan is, “What type of team model should we use?”. This part of the plan will help your team members understand their role in the process of servicing your customers on social media.

What are the different models of social customer service teams?

At SocialPath Solutions, we have identified three types of social customer service teams:

  • Full-Service
  • Concierge
  • Hybrid

These three each have significant benefits and challenges and your team may use one or all of them during their operations. The model you choose to begin your team with may not always be the best as it matures and adapts. Your plan may be to start with a concierge team, but as more lines of business sees the benefits of leveraging social media to service their customers your team may become a hybrid model. Some companies see the full-service model as the final stage of the plan for a social media customer service team, but others realize this model does not work for them.

Full-Service social customer service team

  • More complex to hire and maintain (larger team)
  • Each member of the team must be fully trained on all products and services provided by your company to your customers

This is because every member of the team engages with customers using social media first and then carries the issue all the way through completion. The full-service social media customer service team works well for large teams that can spare individual agents to manage service issues while others continue to engage in-channel. Small teams are more likely to be impacted when some agents are pulled away to complete the resolution of issues.

Concierge social customer service teams

  • Works best for a small workforce
  • Members of the team do not have to have a complete understanding of every product and service your company offers

Instead, they should know who the contact information for the other internal teams that can help the customers directly. Concierge teams also need to be trained on what information is needed for internal teams to provide resolution for customers and if that information can be given on social media networks. A typical example would be not to gather account numbers, but rather contact information so the team providing resolution can reach out directly.

Hybrid social customer service team

  • Combination of full-service and concierge models
  • Teams vary in size, often as the result of maturing social media customer service needs
  • Some of the functions of full-service social media customer service are put into place and supplemented by concierge functions.

Hybrid teams often come about when one department is an early provider of social media customer service and must build on the number of products supported by the team. The newer departments or products can sometimes be supported by the hybrid team for a limited time as the business decides how they want to move forward with either a Full-Service or Concierge model.

How do I know which social customer service team model is right for my business?

The answer to this question is simple: it depends. The team at SocialPath Solutions has built teams with all three models and have determined there is not a single answer for every business or even an industry.

The first step to answering this important question is to determine how big you want your team to be. If you’re planning a minimally staffed team, a Full-Service model may not be the best to start with; each agent will be pulled away from their social media engagement time to complete the servicing requirement for your customer.

If your business is highly technical and complex, the concierge team may be best suited to work as a traffic controller by directing the issues to the right team that can directly resolve the customers’ concerns.

Many SocialPath Solutions customers agree the hybrid model is well-suited for the partnership between companies. Many social media customer service engagements are easily resolved using Social Response Protocols and escalating complex or sensitive issues to a Client team. Utilizing the Hybrid model in this way greatly reduces cost in staffing, purchasing or developing software, and training for the Client business.

Going forward with a (flexible) plan in place

Understand that building a social customer service team can be an ongoing and imperfect challenge. The first step is to create a plan and then expect that plan will change. Build a design that can adjust when it’s time to fine-tune the team’s processes and performance goals. Building a team locked into a singular blueprint sets up the future for failure; social media changes rapidly and your team must be prepared to change with it. And at SocialPath Solutions, we can get you on the right track.