Deepening The Relationship Between Marketing And Service Is Critical For Social Success

Only a short couple of years ago, social media was squarely the domain of marketing and public relations. But consumers changed the rules. They didn’t want to use social media purely for engagement; they wanted to talk to someone behind the brand to get support and share their experiences.

eBusinesses have responded. According to a recent study from Booz & Company, 75% of marketers using social media identify customer service as a primary use of their social media platform.

Unfortunately, there is a gap between objective and performance. A large reason for this gap is the role of customer support in social media leadership. According to the same Booz & Company survey, only 26% of respondents describe customer service as a department responsible for contributing leadership to social media strategies. This doesn’t surprise me. I speak frequently with organizations that describe customer support’s role as more involved than a year or two ago – typically support provides manpower to assist in support-related social content – but they are not deeply involved in driving strategy.

I believe consumer behavior will continue to push eBusinesses to re-evaluate their approach to social media and move to more strategic integration between marketing, branding, and customer service. Why? Consumer adoption of both direct social support and peer-to-peer support has exploded in the last two years. See “Understanding Customer Service Satisfaction To Inform Your 2012 eBusiness Strategy.” Further, the majority of consumers expect a reply to their positive and negative comments on Facebook and Twitter.

This will require processes being established to ensure a consistent customer experience, a blend of metrics to incorporate service and brand, and a deeper integration of social channels into CRM. Only then will social media reach its full marketing, public relations and customer support potential.

We’ve recently published a document titled “Taking Social Support To The Next Level” that addresses the key requirements of how to operationalize social support across a broader social strategy. I hope you find this document helpful.


Great content and glad you

Great content and glad you mentioned this article. Absolutely love the site and its specific community for internet marketers and bloggers. The voting social bookmarking uses is very unique and I havent seen many others as neat as theirs.

People resourcing social support

One of the questions brands are facing is "Can my Customer Support team do Social Support?" I think it's a hard question to answer but in the short to mid term social support should be delivered by those who understand the unique requirements of the channel - which is not always generic customer support teams. Do you agree/disagree or see this changing in the future?

People resourcing social support

I agree that the evolving role of social support can have a significant impact on customer support teams. Part of this is a technology solution that provide a complete view of a customer and integrates social support requests seamlessly into dashboards. You've raised a very good point as well: training is key. The ability to provide outstanding support in a telephone call is not the same as communicating in 140 characters. Many companies undertake training for appropriate contact center staff to ensure they are able to offer the right support on this emerging support channel. I'm curious - do we have any readers who have done this type of social support training for their support teams? Any advice?

Support should definitely be done by agents

We work with lots of companies delivering support via social media channels, and do a lot of research in this space. The thing that keeps coming up over and over again is that the only companies managing to deliver effective customer support through social channels are ones who train up real customer service agents to be able to handle social, and allow them to respond directly.

One of the key attributes of a good customer experience is first contact resolution. Getting responses which tell them to go elsewhere, or that don't really help them, are frustrating experiences - in any channel. In social, where a lot of complaints come from customers already frustrated by other support channels, this is even more key. But most companies are seriously failing at this by trying to get social media managers and community managers to be the first line of social support. Invariable, at high volumes this means two things:

1. Support is inconsistent - these aren't trained agents following process, with systems to ensure they don't miss anything. So some people get great support, others are ignored.

2. Customers might get a response - but not support. Social media managers, as a rule, aren't trained to resolve real customer support issues - and aren't plugged into the customer support systems that allow them to resolve real issues quickly. This is the most common thing we've found when researching what many big companies are doing right now. They respond, but with answers like 'sorry you've had a bad experience. Please contact support by email xx and we'll try and help' - which just upsets customers even more. They've just told you the problem - now help them!

The fact is, social is very different from other customer service channels - it's public and sensitive nature means that new training and processes are required. But for good customer support agents, already good at writing (eg they've proven to be great at email support) training in social is a 1-2 day process. We've worked with many big companies who've done this internally, with social media managers coming up with the training and new escalation processes.

This is the only way that you can get large teams of people who can deliver consistent, effective customer support in social channels. We haven't seen any company, ever, manage to deliver good social support at scale without taking this route!

Siloed Thinking

Excellent insight, Diane. From our perspective (as consultants and educators in the ebusiness space), the problem begins with the seller's siloed approach to customer management: usually Marketing vs Sales vs Support. Each of these groups usually look at only a piece of the customer journey, and their tools and metrics are limited to that piece. As a result, the customer journey is inconsistent and frustrating.

Alternatively, when a company looks at the entire customer journey, end-to-end, all customer-facing teams automatically become part of the strategy to optimize that journey. Holistic metrics, tools, and processes follow. Like Social Media.

I do agree that traditional organizational structures in most companies don't make it easy to create and manage a seamless end-to-end journey. Some innovative thinking needed?

Excellent post. It does feel

Excellent post.

It does feel like social media will start to blur the lines between sales, marketing and customer service. I've posted a tweet about a company and got (conflicting) relies from all three!