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Social Customer Service Models

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A blended social customer service agent model is one that has agents manage customer service interactions across social and non-social channels concurrently. That means having a team that is looking at offline or traditional customer service channels and some of the new social ones. A blended model has several advantages:

  • Greater agent utilization rates. If you have a blended team that’s addressing customer service across all channels, including the new ones, you get greater utilization rates. If everyone across your team has the capacity to deal with inquiries coming in from your different channels, you can be much more efficient about how you use your personnel.
  • Reduced downtime. If you have separate teams, one team might be maxed out on the social side while the other team is not, resulting in downtime. When you combine both teams, you can balance the workload and make sure that downtime doesn’t happen too often. It also help to ensure that responses are quick and efficient.
  • Channel-agnostic. Agents who are channel-agnostic can serve customers, regardless of the channel they are on. Observing customers in different environments can lead to increased learnings for agents, and a cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Simplified resource allocation. A blended team makes it easier to resource up. You can be a lot more efficient about allocating resources when you have just one pool of people to choose from.


A designated social customer service agent model employs agents dedicated to managing customer service interactions on social media. The advantages of a designated model include:

  • Improved agent experience. You can focus training on the social channels, to make sure that your agents have the right capabilities. You can also put processes in place that are tailored specifically to social customer service. There should be a lot less confusion around the different channels when your agents are specialists in those areas. You can potentially deliver better service; and customers can form better, more personal relationships with the agents serving them.
  • Increased agent efficiency. Agents will get better at dealing with inquiries if they’re focused on social channels, and will deal with them much more efficiently. They should be able to undertake a number of tasks at once.
  • Agent selectivity for social. You can choose agents who are really well suited to fast, quick, real-time communication with customers, and who have specific skills relating to social.

Benefits of internal agents versus outsourced agents

You can obviously employ agents internally or you can outsource this service and work with outsourced agents.

The benefits of using internal social customer service agents include:

  • Stronger brand alignment. When it comes to using an internal team, the number one thing is that they have stronger brand alignment. They understand the brand and what it stands for. If you are a high-end consumer brand, let’s say, brand alignment is particularly important. It typically gets more and more important as you go upscale in a market. You will have faster, better communication with your team if they are embedded within your organization.
  • Reduced agent turnover. If you hire agents internally, it’s easier to retain them. People tend to have a greater sense of ownership and involvement in the business when they are hired internally and are embedded within your business. Reduced agent turnover should result in more consistency of service for customers.
  • Greater agent empowerment. You can also empower your agents to resolve customer issues quickly and effectively.

The benefits of using outsourced social customer service agents include:

  • Scalability. On the outsourcing side, you can get more scalability because you can keep outsourcing more and more as your needs increase. You have the ability to scale up the operation quickly.
  • Cost-savings. Generally, you get cost savings in the long run. You tend to save money as a business when you outsource.
  • Coverage. Outsourcing companies may be able to increase or decrease the agents working on your business in a much more flexible way. They might work with two businesses, for example, where one has a big surge in the morning hours and the other has a surge in the evening hours. They can expand their coverage as required.
  • Efficiency. Outsourced agents tend to generate greater efficiencies.  
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Christian Polman

Christian Polman is a General Manager at Eone, Europe. He has driven digital marketing strategy through analytics and research to solve strategic and operating challenges and develop business plans for Fortune 100 brands.

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    Social Customer Service
    Christian Polman
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the concept of social customer service and highlights the social channels that are most often leveraged for this activity. It provides you with best practices you can follow to create and implement a robust social customer service strategy – and to manage it effectively. It also provides best practices for measuring customer satisfaction with the social customer service they receive, and for training social customer service agents. Finally, you learn how to build, grow, and maintain online support communities.