Social Engagement Agent Retention
By Edwin Margulies
Social Engagement for Customer Care is vexed with the same workforce problems we have in traditional contact center environments. Namely, employee burn-out and turn-over. It is not uncommon to have churn rates higher than 30 percent in some customer service centers. I've seen it as bad as 100% or more per year. Social Care organizations are no different. In fact, agent burn-out can be even more acute owing to social spam and a lack of intelligent filtering in first generation social engagement for customer care tools.
Needles in the Haystack
The biggest complaint we hear from customer care executives using social engagement products is that 85-90 percent of their agents' time is spent slogging through spam. These numbers have also been disclosed in public conferences from executives at companies like McDonalds and Nissan, for example. As you can imagine the same complaint we hear from these executives is also articulated by the social care professionals who are in the trenches.
In fact, as few as 5% of all social posts on a related care topic end up being actionable or worthy of opening a case or escalating. Now let's take a look at this throughout the lenses of a social care professional.
Colleague: "Sue, how is your job in the social command center coming along?"
Social Care Specialist: "Uggh I am really getting burned-out on this stuff. Most of my time is spent reading junk and deleting posts that have nothing to do with my mission. I'm supposed to be helping people but most of what I see is spam."
Colleague: "What are you going to do about that?"
Social Care Specialist: "I don't know. Probably quit. This spam stuff is not very fulfilling and I don't think I am getting anywhere career-wise."
The Flip Side of SPAM
In addition to the raw tedium of dealing with social spam (doing manual review and deletion), this waste of time chews away at the time that should be spent solving customers' problems. In essence, only 5 - 10% of a social care agent's time is spent doing legitimate outreach to customers.
It's no wonder it is hard to show an ROI on social care initiatives. In effect, put in old school terms, the "agent occupancy" is below 5%.
Enter the NLP
Virtually all social care executives are well aware of this time-wasting social spam problem. But many don't know there is an alternative and a solid solution to the problem. The solution is to leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP/NLU) technology and either bolt it on to a first-generation social engagement system or to swap out your system with one that has built-in NLP capability.
An NLP Engine can be "taught" what is topically relevant and what is spam. In turn, the NLP engine can automatically tag certain social posts as spam. With sophisticated filtering and dispositioning software, you can even put social spam in folders like you can do with email so agents don't have to read it all.
More Needles in the Stack
In addition to spam, social care agents are also vexed with a lack of prioritization tools. Traditionally, each post, even if it is not spam, has to be manually read and characterized by the agent as being not important, important or urgent. At least if you get rid of the spam, you are eyeballing posts with a greater hope of actually helping someone.
Now imagine if you could use a rules-based engine to automatically tag posts with priorities based on a list of criteria that is important for your business. For example, tagging priorities based on sentiment, influence, cluster or age of post. This means you could make all angry customers who are complaining about a new product launch top priority - automatically.
Hunt and Peck
Social care agents are also bogged-down with manually hunting and pecking for like mentions from the same customer. This can be solved by using a CRM-integrated system, or by using a stand-alone engagement system with CRM-like qualities. For example, the ability to list all posts - regardless of source - from one customer makes it a snap to follow what that person has being saying over time. Even better, if you can sort by conversation thread, social care agents can "get right down to business" and pluck out the most relevant posts in order to figure out what to do.
What's an Agent to Do
Speaking of what to do, and borrowing from the time-honored best practices of traditional contact centers, agents love to have pre-written KB articles, scripts, and next best action suggestions. Very few social engagement for customer care systems offer these natively, but you should consider this seriously for your social care team. Imagine fewer fights with legal because you have a basis for "conforming" answers. Imagine consistent instructions based on your business rules. Imagine getting rid of the mayhem and embracing best practices and smoother workflow.
You can stem the tide of agent turn-over and burn-out by taking simple steps to outfit your social care organization with the proper tools. The near elimination of spam, post tagging and prioritization, customer timelines and agent assistance solutions are all available and surprisingly affordable. Take a good look at what's available and put a stop to the exodus from your newly-formed social care team.