I get asked a lot by people who are thinking of providing social customer care: “I’m so confused, I don’t know where to start?” Let me offer my thoughts on the matter.

Don’t internalise the problem. All too often we keep the problem in our head. We don’t share the problem, because we don’t know who to talk to or we don’t want to show any sign of vulnerability in this perceived gap in our knowledge (beleive me you know more than you think, you just don’t have the confidence to trust yourself). We mull the problem over in our heads. We look at it from different angles. We consider different starting points, and rationalise each one. We do a Google search – first steps in social customer care – we browse through some of the first few links, but soon glaze over as, once again, we suddenly feel the weight of confusion bear down on us, as well as the fact that there seems to be over 10 pages of results. We have no reference points or experience to inform us whether what we are reading makes sense, neither do we trust our instincts. There suddenly seem to be so many gurus out there!

My advice, grab a bunch of Post-Its, a Sharpie pen (but any pen will do), find an available wall somewhere, and then simply start to get your concerns, blockers, assumptions and ideas on to those Post-Its; one concern, blocker, assumption or idea per Post-it.

Blockers

Don’t try to analyse what you’ve written, just get everything out of your head, no matter how trivial or absurd it seems. When you feel you’ve got as far as you can, take a break, make yourself a coffee, let your mind rest a bit!.

When you’re ready to start up again, you’ve got various options on what to do next. So in no particular order:

a) Group similar Post-Its: Look over all the Post-Its and group similar ones together, label the different groups. Whatever is left over, if you really can’t put them into any of the groups, just label them ‘other’.

Group

b) Stakeholders: For each Post-It identify who the key stakeholder(s) might be. For this, you could then repeat the activity from a stakeholder perspective ie. if one of your stakeholders is the Chief Marketing Officer, what might their concerns or blockers be.

You can add further degrees of granularity, by specifying:

The stakeholders can be individuals (customer service agent, compliance, social media director) or a group of individuals (ie. management, customer service etc)

Show the relationship between the different stakeholder groups

Show the specific concerns or blockers each stakeholder or group might have

c) Risk: Draw a vertical line, add ‘High Risk’ to the top of the line, and ‘low risk’ to the bottom of the line. Now take each Post-It and add it in the appropriate place on your graph.

d) Timeline: Draw a horizontal line and label the left hand side ‘Project Start’ and the right hand side ‘Project Close’. Now start to add each Post-It to the appropriate place on your graph. You can also combine more than one variable into the same graph ie. Timeline + Risk, Timeline + Category.

e) Likelihood: Draw a vertical or horizontal line, label one side ‘High Certainty’ and the other side ‘Low possibility’. You could also combine this with Risk.

stakeholders etc

You could also look at specific categories and plot them against the timeline and risk. There may be other ways to categorise or organise the Post-Its, so have the confidence to experiment. Some will work, some won’t. However, you choose to do it, just make sure you don’t leave it inside your head!

risk+time

Once you’ve finished the above, you can then take each concern, blocker, idea and assumption and think of ways to resolve them. One resolution per Post-it.

blockers1

blockers2

You can repeat this approach at any time, and I would recommend that you revisit your concerns, blockers, assumptions and ideas at regular intervals.

You can do this activity on your own to begin with, simply to familiarise yourself with how it works. And then, do it with your team, and when you’re ready expand it to include some of the stakeholders you originally identified.

This becomes a great way to bring together and align people from across the organisation, who will all have their own perspective of and opinions on social customer care. They will add new concerns you hadn’t thought of, or bring nuances and subtleties of meaning to shared concerns. This will result in a richer and fuller understanding overall of the potential blockers and concerns that exist. And by bringing these blockers and concerns out into the open, you’re not only starting to work in a more open and collaborative way, you’re also bringing clarity and focus, and importantly instilling a sense of confidence in your ability to provide direction on a subject that people still struggle with.

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