Agent Assistance Tools for Social Engagement
By Edwin Margulies
You can ensure that your agents are fully prepared and ready for social customer outreach by taking the time to develop proper assistance tools for them. It helps to start with a social engagement platform that is specifically designed for customer service agents and supervisors. But beyond this, you can give your team that extra edge by following this advice.
Fundamental Agent Assistance
There are three fundamental tools that provide agents with assistance in a social customer care setting.
First, Priority Tagging gives your agents the ability to quickly recognize and react to social post items in the form of banners, eye candy and tags. These tags draw attention to specific attributes of a post. For example, how old the post is, or whether or not there is an existing conversation thread going on with the author.
Second, Agent Assistance Scripts are a great way to provide ready-made answers and suggestions for customers. You can catalogue these and name them easily. Modern engagement platforms give you the ability to pull these up and automatically populate the response pane with this text.
Third, Next Best Actions are special instructions that are meant to be agent-facing and not customer-facing. These special instructions are triggered when certain, pre-determined conditions exist.
Modern social engagement for customer care platforms have the ability to “tag” social posts based on specific attributes. For example the post of an angry blogger who has a high social influence score could be tagged as a high priority.
Depending on the platform you are using, there are various attributes of a social post item that can be used to trigger priorities in collaboration with a rules engine. Some examples of these are:
• The Source URL and title of the post item
• Selected text in the post body
• When the post item was published
• Source (social media, blog, article)
• Author name or handle
• Author public influence
• Author corporate influence
• Post sentiment
• Persistent Cluster (Business Issue)
• Trending Cluster (Trending Topic)
If you do not have a platform with a built-in rules engine with which to trigger these priority tags automatically, you can nonetheless prepare your agents by providing them with a “cheat sheet” that can be posted next to their workstation or on a large poster on the wall. The important thing is to establish the conditions that help guide agents on the priority of posts. This will make them much happier because their workday will simply be more productive.
Agent Assistance Scripts
Agent Assistance Scripts are pre-defined (canned) textual messages agents can use to respond to social posts. In most cases, these scripts are editable so agents can personalize them a little for each customer. You can also use agent assistance scripts to pass URL links. These links make it easy for customers to view information that is longer than 140 characters (the Twitter character limitation).
Depending on your internal policies, your legal department or management team may need to approve these scripts. This may be true of financial services or healthcare companies, for example.
Modern social engagement platforms provide you with the infrastructure to capture and catalogue these scripts. Some also allow you to automatically populate your “response pane” by clicking on a script name. This saves steps and keystrokes for your agents and makes compliance a lot easier to implement.
Even though agent assistance scripts are typically canned, it is a best practice to make them editable so agents can personalize them before sending them out. This personalization step helps to avoid the appearance of the responses being “robotized.” That is not to say that robotic responses are bad. But it's best to limit robotic responses to social handles that are well known by your customers as being robots, and not attended by human agents.
Next Best Actions
Next Best Actions (NBA) are explicit instructions telling agents what to do based on specific conditions. These conditions may be similar to or exactly the same as priority tags, but in more advanced systems, they work independently. Not all engagement platforms have this advanced capability, but I recommend you investigate this fully.
There are several benefits of using NBA scripts. First, they are great for on-boarding new agents who are not familiar with all of your workflow rules and policies. For example, you can set up an NBA on the conditions that an influential customer is angry about a specific product.
That’s three attributes: a) Customer; b) Angry Sentiment; and c) Product “X.” The NBA can be triggered when these specific conditions exist. The script may say, for example: “Influential and Angry Meat Department Customer – escalate this to the Retention Desk Immediately.” Likewise you can push an NBA script that gives guidance on refunds, repairs, replacements – just about anything that you explicitly set down rules for.
Next best actions are more powerful when your social engagement for customer care platform is linked to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. This allows for the incorporation of corporate influence scores, loyalty rankings, and other essential customer information that can be used to trigger NBAs.
This agent assistance tool is also effective in agent adherence to compliance issues. For example, some agents are required to recite certain scripts based on the type of transaction. For example, “Are you over the age of 18 and responsible for this bill?” For an agent to be in compliance, he or she must say (or write) such a phrase if certain conditions exist. The same applies for social engagement.
You may decide that for your organization, that you always want to send a loyalty coupon or offer some kind of incentive to certain customers who have experienced something bad with your brand. The possibilities are endless.
The best starting point for these NBAs is your own company’s workflow and policies documents. If these policies are not written down, I urge you to do so. Memorializing your policies in the form of triggers and next best actions will save you many steps in agent training and coaching, and also possibly keep you out of big trouble.
As with agent assistance scripts, NBA scripts are a native tool in most modern social engagement for customer care platforms. If you are using a platform that does not have built-in NBAs, you can still keep track of these actions on a table that you can publish to your agents. You can start with cheat sheets, posters, and wallboard displays and then graduate to an engagement platform that incorporates all of these.
Agent assistance tools are essential for superior on-boarding, agent retention, and agent adherence to compliance rules. Make a habit of reviewing your workflow rules and policies and publishing them to your team. Better yet, do quarterly reviews and bake your agent assistance tools into your engagement platform for superior customer care.