5 Ways to Up Your Organization's Social Care Efforts

Take a second and think back to the last great customer service you experienced. This could be in-person at a restaurant, online through twitter, or face to face from an employee handling a difficult situation.

How did it make you feel?

Did you tell someone about it? Even if you didn't, I bet it was easy to remember how great you felt. 

Now think of a bad customer service experience. Did it pop into your head even quicker than the good one and can you remember it that much more vividly? 

I bet you most definitely told someone about it. Perhaps through a Facebook or Twitter post, right? I know I did last year when Budget rental truck failed to provide a moving truck after we reserved it two weeks prior and put down a deposit. After multiple phone calls my wife and I took to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Luckily we got our moving truck (6 hours later), but it was because of our relentlessness and own problem-solving. Believe me, it had nothing to do with Budget's leadership. #thanksbutnothanksbudget

As I shared at this week's (#MACUHO2015) conference at Penn State, we are relying on social care and turn to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (yes Instagram, check out @birchbox) to share our problems and hopefully, have them resolved.

Sharing these bad experiences faster, more frequently, and with more people makes sense because according to American Express's Global Customer Service survey, 42% of people will tell their friends about a good customer experience on social, while 53% will talk about a bad one.

That's where social care comes into your organization's leadership must-have's starting now, not in 2016. 

Kevin, what the heck is social care and why do I need to care about it? 

By my definition, social care is: 

1. the efforts employees/volunteers make through social media to care for customers.

2. a service provided by empowered and well-trained representatives, select groups, and leadership to provide positive customer experiences and engagement.

The key words in the definition are empowered, well-trained, and leadership. Social media in general isn't just for the marketing department nor is it a bottom-up or top-down approach. In the words of good ole Hillary Clinton, "it takes a village." 

Whether you are the social media expert or the most removed person from your companies front-line, you have an impact. 


If Timothy Sands, Virginia Tech's President, is putting himself out there on Twitter from inviting students to join him and his wife for lunch in their student center to answering tweets helping solve IT and Residence Life issues then you most certainly have no excuse. 

Still not convinced you play a role in social care because of your job title or responsibilities within your organization? Let's look to Jimmy John's who have an entire department (marketers to college grads to stay at home parents) offering some of the best customer service through social media I've come across. This mindset is a shift in leadership, culture, and requires buy-in from several key players. Jimmy John's not only provides the best customer service but they do it with the right professional voice, personality, and accuracy. Sure, the answers may take time but they acknowledge fast (hence #freakyfast) and make sure they make the customer's day in under 140 characters. From what I can tell, no tweet goes on answered, positive, negative, or in-different. 

So, how do you "up" your social care (or maybe get started)? Here are five quick tips - a few we shared in my keynote "Social Care: The New Approach to Serving Students On Your Campus" at the MACUHO Regional Conference. 

1. Hire a social care rep

Effective social care requires someone who can act fast, engage, represent your organization's professional digital voice (while not being afraid to use an occasional gif or emjoi), and can have access to the entire organization. If you have an assistant running your front desk or a person answering the phones, then a social care rep is a must have. Young adults especially are making fewer and fewer phone calls (heck, we text with our grand-parents now). 

2. Celebrate the positive 

So many of us think of the negative when we ask "what-if" questions. Yes, there will be some things you don't like seeing but wouldn't you rather have a pulse about how your department is perceived and educate, train, and create a culture that listens? I'm bullish on this topic, but when done right, but the upside of an effective social media strategy outweighs the what-if's. By the way, you all work hard and care about what you do, it's time to celebrate the success, tell the story, and see what your audience needs from you. 

3.  Show the love

Be a part of #Teamfollowback and if they are part of your audience (or affiliated to your industry), follow them back if they follow you. If your brand is big enough, don't be afraid to start following (i.e. if you are college campus department such as Penn State, following relevant PSU students is ideal). But if they start to follow you, start to look at your instagram or twitter timeline to get a sense of what is going on in their lives, what gets them excited, and where they need help. Become the number one resource and the biggest "ears" on campus. 

4. Search

Twitter and Instagram search is powerful to get a pulse on your demographic as well as to see what people are saying about your service, program, or product. You may be waiting for @ tags or hashtags you have marketed, but guess what, fewer than 3% of customers directly @ mention brands. Start searching geotags of your facilities/locations on Instagram and come up with 10-15 keyword (not hashtag) searches to run on Twitter search or Tweetdeck. 

5. Create an ambassador program

What better way to get buy-in, create new positions, and offer a diverse and unique perspective of your organization than a well-executed team of ambassadors. Some examples include UDel and NPR Interns.

"I'm in! how do I sell this to my boss?"

No matter your position or "klout" in your organization, you will need to win over your boss or leadership, right? Sure, using statistics and data like in this post will help but you need to paint a bigger picture. You need to find their biggest pain point (i.e. miscommunication, negative perception, increase in those your organization serves) and relate it back to social media. Tell them, 85% of this generation doesn't like the hard sell anymore, they want transparency and to know what good you are doing behind close doors (Donald Miller). If data is the issue or they don't believe it, start searching and screen-shoting what customers or potential customers are saying. Remember, everyone likes advertising and positive press, right? So remind them social media has a very inexpensive point of entry and with hard work and consistency, you will start to pick up "free" marketing.   

This isn't easy to say and it frustrates me, but even though we are less than two months away from 2016, this is still not the norm. This mindset goes against traditional processes and will be an uphill battle for many. But as Deena Smith tweeted at me and said "We need more social media advocates." 

At the end of the day, treat social media just like you would a face to face conversation. Just keep in mind you need to make sure it fits the platform. 

Will you become a social media advocate? 

Share this with someone who needs to read it.  

I am passionate about digital storytelling, engagement, and training and empowering organizations who love what they do find and tell their story. If I can help, let's talk