5 Tips to Outclass Your SLAs

By: Sofie De Beule

August 5, 2016

Customers don’t just want moderate, run-of-the-mill customer service. They expect excellent support from businesses. Time is of the essence, and delivering a timely response and being able to engage in real-time is essential to make you stand out from the crowd. As social customer service becomes more mature, many companies commit to replying in under an hour (or even under 30 minutes for certain industries).

Some companies even take it up a notch–here are some of the best practices they’re using to meet and even surpass their Service Level Agreements (or SLAs) to make sure customer queries are answered within a certain amount of time.

1. Keep a holistic overview of your KPIs.  You need to set response time goals to make sure you are living up to your social customer service SLAs. The average time you need to handle a message, the volume of replies during a certain period of time, your average response time, etc. are just as important to bear in mind. You cannot optimize your SLAs if you don’t get the full, bigger picture and take the entire spectrum of KPIs into account. For example, when you notice an increase in the volume of messages that need a response, but you’re not making any changes to the way you organize your team (i.e. adjusting shifts, onboarding new team members), how can you ever expect to meet or even surpass your SLAs?

2. Invest in extra resources during peak moments. If response times are going through the roof because of volume peaks, it’s typically a matter of optimizing and rethinking the way you structure your team. The most common situation is when a crisis hits (or even when things are just busier than usual) and you have high volumes of mentions coming in. In that case, you need to be able to call upon some extra hands. Because of the fast pace of social media, a social customer service team is always evolving so you need to have a plan in place for when things are busier.

3. Organize weekly status meetings with your social media team leader. Accountability and ownership is extremely important when you take on social customer service. Customer service agents can easily feel out of touch, and it’s key for someone to coach and motivate them and encourage them to collaborate. That’s why holding frequent (preferably weekly or bi-weekly) meetings with your social customer service agents is a great way to not only look at numbers but discuss and interact with team members to improve your activities and share ideas on how to improve your response time.

4. Adopt first- and second-line customer support. The way you organize your team is important to increase work efficiency. To smoothly handle each mention, you need to have a strong workflow in place to get messages easily to the person who is most equipped to respond. That’s where adopting the first- and second-line customer support best practice comes in. Not all social customer service agents have the same level of knowledge. With first- and second-line customer support, you can quickly route mentions to the person who’s most knowledgeable to follow up. For example, more complex questions get routed to second-line customer support.

5. Visualize your response time within your team’s space. A great motivator to outclass your SLAs is to showcase your current response time. The actual space where a team sits is often neglected. Spice up your team’s workspace and display your response time among other key KPIs on tv screens. Demonstrating your efforts and visualizing it for your entire team to see really helps your social customer service team to stay on track with your day-to-day performance. Some companies even go the extra mile and showcase their response time in their Twitter profile’s header .

Outclassing your SLAs goes beyond optimizing your KPIs and requires you to keep a holistic view of your efforts and having someone take strong ownership over your social customer service efforts.

Sofie De Beule is Content Marketing Specialist at Clarabridge. She helps establish Clarabridge as a thought leader for Social Customer Service and Customer Experience. Sofie’s an Engagor expert,  Clarabridge’s best-in-class social customer service solution, inspiring brands on how to manage and get their social customer service program off the ground. Sofie holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations & International Marketing from Artevelde University College Ghent. Read more from Sofie on Twitter @sofiedbeule.