Social Customer Care: You’re In or You’re Out

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Q: What is an example of a best practice when it comes to social?

A: One recurring theme in both my conversations and survey findings is the ability to deliver consistent messages to customers; the message that is delivered from marketing, sales, or service. If they’re not speaking the same language, in other words not collaborating, chances are they might deliver one message via social media and another one through emails or Web sites. That will confuse the customer and [affect] brand image, and result in a decline in customer satisfaction scores.

Q: What can companies do if they are operating in these silos?

A: They should be asking: Who monitors customer engagement within [the] business, particularly through social media? For example, [let’s assume] customers tweet to your corporate handle or post on your Facebook page. Handling these interactions used to be [the job of] marketing until very recently. We’ve seen a drastic shift toward customer service and the contact center in managing these interactions, as they are the nerve center of the business. If a customer is reaching out to you, then the people in the contact center oftentimes already have the historical interaction data, and can serve customers in a more timely manner. But they still need to collaborate with marketing and sales, as those are other stakeholders engaging with the same clients. From that perspective, the silos are gradually breaking down as companies understand that they need to deliver a coherent message.

Q: Which business sectors do you see doing social [care] right?

A: Typically, the retail and hospitality folks are at the forefront because of the nature of their businesses—customer loyalty is a main component and it’s also very consumer-centric. I also see financial services paying heavy attention to social. They cannot always get back to the customer through social media due to the regulations governing their activities, but they can route the customer to other channels (e.g. phone and IVR) to address their needs. These [sectors] have been laser focused on social.

Q: What has this research shown you?

A: Social has been a primary driver, but not the sole driver, of the empowered customer trend, which addresses the fact that customers today know all about you [your business, products, and services] before they even engage with you. What is surprising are the adoption levels. It indicated that we see 70 percent adoption levels; I expected that to be a bit lower, but I was very encouraged to see more businesses embracing social media as part of their customer interaction channel mix.

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