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Most Companies Still Clueless About Using Social Media for Customer Support

July 02, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Anyone who foresaw the business applications of social media should probably be given some kind of award. Consumer use of social media came up like a sudden storm, not only embraced by younger people (which would have been easy to foresee), but also by their parents and even grandparents. Today, social media represents one of the most common ways people communicate.

Consumers are using social media not only to communicate with each other, but they expect to be able to use it to communicate with the brands with which they do business, as well. Conversely, they are expecting the brands to communicate back to them. This is where it has gotten difficult. Only a small number of forward-thinking companies have drafted an intensive plan for responding to social media communications as urgently as they would telephone calls or other more traditional media. For many companies, social media is still just a marketing vehicle.

“Companies clearly recognize the marketing opportunity that social media provides, yet most seem to be focused on relentlessly posting messages touting the virtues of their products, while very few have mastered the art of responding during the moments that matter most to consumers,” writes Richard Dumas, director of product and solutions marketing for cloud contact software solutions provider Five9 (News - Alert), in a recent article for Social Times.

The kicker is that customers expect a response, and they will complain – visibly – about any company that doesn’t meet their expectations. Despite this, a Maritz Research company that specializes in social media analytics found that approximately 70 percent of customer service complaints made on Twitter (News - Alert) are ignored, according to Dumas. And companies that do respond are doing it slowly, taking hours or even days to do so.

A February 2014 study that Five9 conducted with the International Customer Research Institute (ICMI) revealed that while more than 68 percent of businesses recognize social media as a necessary service channel, 60 percent of companies are not formally supporting social customer care.

To succeed today, companies need to not only listen, they need to actively participate in social media discussions. They can’t stick to their own Facebook (News - Alert) pages, either…they need to be actively searching for social media posts in other places and on other channels – even competitors’ pages. A contact center solution that can help monitor, track and respond to social media posts alongside other transactions in the main queue are key to success with social media.

Forward-thinking companies must determine whose responsibility it is to listen and respond to posts, and to build a set of best-practices that will help contact center personnel understand how to respond. In the end, there also needs to be follow-up, quality monitoring and reporting on social media interactions, which must become part of the customer’s permanent record.

Social media today is simply becoming too critical to an organization’s broader customer support policy to ignore any longer. If your social media is languishing in marketing and is comprised of simply glancing at the day’s Facebook posts, you have a lot of work ahead of you. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle