For Customer Service, Social Isn’t the End Game – It’s a Way to Change the Game

Now, more than ever, the importance of differentiation throughout the customer experience is paramount. For Service, Marketing, Sales, and Commerce leaders Social adds another new channel and a host of opportunities.

Social also brings new strategies and tactics to be mastered and tuned to your business—but avoid the SocialThe Customer Experience Silo. Thinking about Social as a set of processes, people, and technologies separate from your core business will be a limiting factor down the road. 

Isn’t Social Media a Marketing Thing?

Not anymore. First, more and more people found their way onto social networks. Then, accelerated by the explosion of mobile technology, they started spending more and more time on them. It made sense for Marketing to get in the game first. Early adopters in Social Service started experimenting and learning from Marketing’s example soon after. Today, these factors are at a tipping point, forcing Service organizations to get social in order to remain competitive and meet ever-increasing customer expectations. The driving forces:

  • Scope – The pervasive nature of Social networks has made some level of Social service mandatory. You’ve got to be where the customers are.
  • Speed – The speed at which information is being shared is via Social, including Social via mobile, goes hand-in-hand with rising customer expectations.
  • Sharing – Social networks are about sharing experiences—the good and the not-so-good—and it’s more public and transparent than any other channel.

So, who owns Social? Social isn’t a Marketing thing or a Service thing. It’s a Customer Experience thing. Yes, Marketing may be the primary owner of a company’s Social properties—Twitter, Facebook, et. al. This topic was tackled in a recent Social Media Today Webcast Marketing and Customer Service Merge: How to Manage Socially Integrated Channels.

The bottom line is that the customer expects one, consistent experience across touch points. Structuring your customer’s journey for consistency is going to take some level of inter-departmental understanding and collaboration if you want to do it right.

Social Service Isn’t About Solving a Customer’s Problem in 140 Characters

Incorporating Social into your business doesn’t mean that you have to transform everyone in your contact center into a team of social media all stars. If you’re a social champion in your organization I would recommend you take that misconception off the table as soon as possible. Break your entry into Social into consumable and achievable chunks -- like identifying Social skill-sets that exist in your teams today.

Also, watch out for the hype around how social business is portrayed in the media. Yes, there are and will continue to be breathless headlines about companies moving towards or away from Social for customer service. I read a LOT of articles about the business value of social. The learning from the real-world scenarios, successes and failures is great. Just keep in mind that the reality lies somewhere between the two extremes.

The best implementations of Social for customer service leverage the best characteristics of social media (transparency, interests, speed, 1:few and 1:1 interaction…) but channel interactions towards your existing processes and strengths. I’ll break down specific tactics—including potential grey-areas, agreements, and rules of engagement in future posts.

Social Service Philosophies – Be Proactive, Drive Service Improvement

I’ll say it one more time because it’s important. The end game for Service remains largely unchanged when you add Social. The types of metrics (e.g. deflection, response rate, average response time…) remain, for the most part, the same too. The biggest changes are found in the driving principles and opportunities that Social brings to the Service conversation:

  • Principle #1) Be more proactive. You already know that Service starts well before the contact center. The competition around the customer experience makes this more important. Social makes it more visible.
  • Principle #2) Drive improvement back into the Service experience. The (largely) public and transparent nature of Social actually makes this easier than it’s ever been before.

Summary:

  • Avoid the Social Silo – It’s a new channel that needs to be incorporated into your overall Service strategy
  • Social isn’t a Marketing or a Service Thing – It’s a customer experience thing and we’re all on the hook to deliver.
  • Social Will Change the Game – The pace and transparency of Social will change certain aspects of Service, but the right approach and right-sized strategies can make this a win-win for both you and the customer.

Stay tuned. Next I’ll be laying out specific strategies for incorporating Social into your Service strategy including; what it takes, potential objections, and ideas on how to build a business case.

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