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What's Holding Companies Back from Social Customer Support?

May 06, 2014

By TMCnet Staff,


Social media is becoming one of the primary ways people communicate online. More than one billion people use Facebook (News - Alert) – that’s more than one in seven people on Planet Earth – and about 500 million Tweets are sent each day. If the goal of marketing is to present products and services where people live, it’s pretty clear that savvy marketers should have mastered social media by now, or at the very least be high on the learning curve.

Many companies may have social media programs at least on paper, but it seems that most of these programs live only on paper. Today, about 40 percent of consumers are using social media to try and interact with companies, social media analytics company evolve24, has found that approximately 70 percent of customer service complaints made on Twitter are ignored. The Sprout (News - Alert) Social Index found that four out of five consumers’ inquires on social media remain unanswered by the companies they are aimed at. According to a study carried out in the first quarter of this year by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and cloud contact center platform solutions provider Five9 (News - Alert), 60 percent of companies are not formally supporting social customer care. The study surveyed 408 members of the contact center community.  

So what gives? It’s not like companies haven’t had warnings. Two years ago, Gartner (News - Alert) published a warning to consumer-facing and even b-to-b companies: “Organizations that refuse to communicate with customers by social media will face the same level of wrath as those that ignore today's basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls.”
 

As we know that many companies are still offering uneven customer service via traditional channels such as telephone, what chance do these companies have with newer channels such as social media? Anecdotal evidence tells us that small issues that go unanswered in social media can rapidly escalate into large issues that hit the press and can drag a company’s reputation down. Essentially, companies ignoring social media are putting their very existence on the line.

One of the most common barriers to social customer service is a lack of the right solutions and tools to monitor, track, analyze and respond to social media queries, according to the ICMI/Five9 survey. If companies do at least listen to social media, these functions are unlikely to be integrated into the company’s CRM solution and the broader contact center operations. They cannot prioritize these social media queries or tie them into the customer’s history of transactions with the company. Essentially, it boils down to a lack of a comprehensive, integrated social customer support solution. (The study found that over 79 percent of companies are attempting social care without proper tools.)

The situation (luckily) can be remedied. According to Five9, some of the ways companies can pursue social customer care include:
 

  • Listening to what customers are saying via social media and identifying social engagement opportunities;
  • Picking the right technology solution;
  • Making a plan such as a “social playbook”;
  • Identifying the right team of knowledgeable agents who can be blended in with the broader contact center operations;
  • Establishing a protocol for responding – best practices will be valuable here; and
  • Monitoring, measuring and optimizing based on reports and customer satisfaction data.
     

While it may be budgets holding companies back from doing social customer support right, it’s important to recognize the costs of not offering a comprehensive social media channel. Bad word of mouth, missed opportunities and advantages by competitors who do it right, are just some of the long-term risks. 




Edited by Stefania Viscusi