Meeting Customer Needs Through Social Media

A swirling social media universe

Social media tools can amplify your agency’s message, but they are also a meeting space for two-way conversations. They can be a key tool to resolve user issues and deliver excellent customer service.

This is true for agencies in every corner of the government space. In honor of our monthly contact center theme, we reached out to the Social Media Community of Practice to learn more about how social media complements the work of federal contact centers.

Federal Student Aid

250 x 283 Twitter photo AskFAFSA experts
Customer service is the main focus of Federal Student Aid’s social media accounts. In addition to the monthly #AskFAFSA chats that DigitalGov recently covered, FSA provides daily customer service through the @FAFSA Twitter and the Federal Student Aid Facebook page.

“In 2014, we responded to 3,450 inquiries,” said Nicole Callahan, Digital Engagement Strategist for FSA. “Altogether, customer service makes up 66% of our total social media activity at Federal Student Aid. Even our tweets and status updates are driven by the questions we receive via social media.”

FSA coordinates an office-wide customer experience “customer listening” program, which includes surveys, call centers, and social media. The results from the program drive their content.

USA.Gov and GobiernoUSA.gov

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The USA.gov platform is a single portal to find government information and services. The team also offers a call center, 1-844-USA-GOV1, where people can find answers to their government questions. USA.gov’s social media accounts provide an additional channel for the public to find information.

“Our whole mission is to help people connect to government information, benefits and services anywhere, anytime and however they choose to get that information,” said Jessica Milcetich, Social Media Strategist for USA.gov. “Some of our most frequently asked questions come from people trying to find out what benefits they might qualify for, how to find student loan information and how to get visas to come to the United States for school or work.”

In 2014, Milcetich and her team answered 1,297 questions via social media for USA.gov and its Spanish-language sister site, GobiernoUSA.gov. For 2015, they have currently answered 357 questions. Their main social media platforms are Facebook (USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov) and Twitter (@USAgov and @GobiernoUSA).

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) conducts and supports research and provides information about complementary health products and practices. The NCCIH team makes it a priority to respond to social media inquiries in a timely manner said Yasmine Kloth, Digital and Social Media Strategist for NCCIH.

In order to actively reach out to the public, NCCIH holds monthly Twitter chats through @NIH_NCCIH.

“In 2014, our chats reached an average of 1.4 million people each month with a monthly average of 27 million impressions, Kloth said. “These chats provide us with the opportunity to answer questions from the public on a specific topic about complementary health approaches, such as mind and body practices or natural products. These events have been helpful in sharing and promoting our information and resources. For example, in February we hosted a Twitter chat on the use of mind and body approaches such as tai chi, yoga, and meditation. News outlets such as SELF Magazine wrote about the chat and the information we shared, increasing our Center’s visibility beyond the chat’s one hour timeframe.”

nih nccih June 2014 Facebook Q and A for fibromyalgia

The team has also held Facebook Q&A’s to answer questions. Two recent chat topics were herbal supplements and fibromyalgia. The fibromyalgia Q&A was held over a three day period, and Kloth said her team saw a notable increase in engagement on Facebook during that time frame. On the final day of the chat, the NCCIH Facebook page received 139 likes, 40 comments, and 27 shares.

In 2014, Kloth and her team received an average of 37 comments a month on the NCCIH Facebook page, with about seven comments a month warranting a customer service response.

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