How to secure executive buy-in for your social customer care strategy

25 April 2017 by Anita Matthews

How to secure executive buy in for your social customer service strategy

Businesses need a robust strategic approach to setting up and evolving social customer service. To secure senior buy-in you need a plan with longevity which is aligned with your strategic goals, which will no doubt include: improved customer loyalty, advocacy, account growth, retention or higher sales. 

Remember senior executives are often responsible for large diverse areas within an organisation so you may need to do some work in the background to set the scene in a clear, concise way before presenting your social customer service plan.

  • Research from Altimeter Group found that, “only 52% of companies say that executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with their company’s social strategy”.
  • 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions, however only 27% of top companies said their C-level executives were actively engaged in social media

Who to engage with?

You need to involve the right people from across the business to generate support for your strategy. Marketing, service, tech, product and supply teams will all be impacted by a social customer service strategy and will all have valuable input to add to the process.  Involve key team members from the start to ensure you have support prior to launch. 

How to engage them?

Be realistic about how to deliver on your organisation’s social customer service objectives and define success criteria in a staged process. Ensure you collect the right social customer care data to be able to show social ROI and track performance.

Senior executive buy-in checklist

Before meeting with executives, ensure you are well prepared and can answer the following questions:

  • Can you show how your social customer service strategy aligns with existing business objectives?
  • Can you prove results through measurable metrics, reports, or data analysis?
  • Do your senior executives have regular visibility of these reports?
  • Are your executives active on social media personally and do they understand the importance of social as a customer channel?

Once you can easily answer these you’re ready to move forward and formulate your strategy.  Here are 6 tips to ensure you get the senior support you need:

  1. Establish a social media champion – Ideally someone who has power in the organisation and whose opinions carry weight. This might be a senior manager with the formal power to get things done. However, many organisations have informal networks of power based around length of tenure, or popularity. Identify these people and get them on board, as well as key senior decision makers. You will also need a decision maker who can sign off budget and staff resources and a network of influential individuals in different departments across the business to ensure successful implementation.

  2. Communicate the benefits – Different groups in the business will have different concerns and are likely to be motivated by different things. For example, contact centre managers will be interested in understanding how social media can make their lives easier or enable them to provide a better service to customers. Marketing are likely to be motivated by how your strategy can assist with reducing customer churn and reduce the amount spent on acquiring new customers.

    - It costs 7x more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one - Kapost
    - Social customer care increases retention by 7.5% - Aberdeen Group

    Help each group understand how social customer service can benefit them and help solve their key challenges.

  3. Create a clear vision - Ensure your social customer service strategy aligns with overall business strategy and be prepared to discuss how social will contribute to business growth in the long-term. Create clear short to medium-term goals for your strategy, such as improving response times, reducing average resolution length or improving CSAT social customer service scores and provide regular updates on your progress.  

    Try our guide: How to handle social customer service at scale for more ideas on how to successfully create and manage your social strategy.

  4. Demonstrate value –Counter any potential resistance early on by showing managers and staff the effectiveness of social customer service as compared to other channels. Shifting enquires to social can save huge amounts of money compared to dealing with the same queries over the telephone or face to face.

    - Customer service on Twitter often costs 80% less per interaction than a phone call (Twitter)

    Use a social customer service tool such as Sentiment which delivers best-in-class customer care analytics to track progress and create custom reports for your key audiences.  See ‘Using social customer care data to improve revenue’ to learn more about how to create valuable insights from your social customer care data.

  5. Communicate success – This can take the form of a simple internal email communication. It could be a monthly highlight of what’s going on within the business as far as social customer service is concerned. Include examples such as positive interactions, referrals from high influencers or industry best practice examples.

    To really showcase your success, provide real-time visibility and create a wow factor, use Sentiment’s social command centre. It provides a hub for social customer metrics and helps executives visualise results and progress. Set up your social command centre on a large screen in a highly visible location to maximise visibility and create a positive buzz around what you are doing.

  6. Training and support – High profile social media mistakes can make executives nervous of people saying the wrong thing. Use a social customer service platform like Sentiment with an approval loop to ensure all comments are vetted before going live and provide peace of mind. This ensures quality control over agent responses. Regular training sessions and sharing of best practice will also help with building the social customer care team and ensure agents feel comfortable responding on social and are able to reflect the brand personality in a more human and personalised way.

Social customer care is helping all types of organisations increase customer satisfaction and improve retention. Find out how we helped leading UK insurer 1ST Central transform their social customer care programme.

Request a demo today>>, to see how we can help you better serve your social customers.

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