Social Customer Care: Isn’t it Time?

Organizations are still trying to figure out what to do about social media. The top approach to handling posts that mention a company is to ignore them, because businesses do not have the infrastructure or best practices to handle social media. This is a mistake, because many of these posts contain valuable information or inquiries that should be addressed on a timely basis. Customers have generally accepted the lack of responsiveness, but this is changing. Social media has become an accepted communication channel – in fact, Twitter is one of the primary ways of sharing thoughts in real time, as we’ve seen in the recent Twitter wars among the U.S. presidential candidates. Companies who ignore social media posts and comments are putting themselves at risk, and it’s time for them to do something about it.

DMG introduced the concept of social customer care over 6 years ago. We released an industry report on this subject back in 2012, after spending 2 years researching the topic. Not a lot of progress has been made since then, but now it’s time for companies to respond to the needs (actually, demands) of their customers, by building omni-channel contact centers that include social media.

Who Owns the Social Customer Care Organization?

One of the primary challenges for organizations is deciding which department should own the social media channel. Customers or bloggers who write the posts don’t care, as long as they get a timely response. Years ago, companies built customer service departments or contact centers to be their face to the public. I’m not sure why so many companies think social media should be treated differently, but it shouldn’t. The service organization should continue its mission as the primary contact point for all channels, including social media. What does have to change is the responsiveness of other departments – including the executive suite, IT, sales, marketing, product development, risk, fraud, legal, etc. – to the inquiries that they receive from customer service. Companies need to establish internal service level agreements (SLAs) between their customer service department and all other groups, to ensure a timely response to social media interactions. For customer service to do its job, the supporting departments have to respond within minutes and not hours or days, as was the case in the past. The world is changing, and it’s time for organizations to adapt to the demands and expectations of the Millennial generation.

Getting Started

Most companies have a few people handling their social media interactions today, and more often than not they are in marketing. Companies need technology to help them address the social media challenge. Minimally, they need listening devices to help them search the Web for posts and comments about their company and products, and text analytics to filter the interactions and find the insights, trends, inquiries, complaints, new product ideas, sales opportunities, and a whole lot more.

Once social customer care programs are formalized with established policies and procedures, service-level objectives and goals, the marketing department will likely want to pass the responsibility for managing it to the service organization, which is accustomed to handling large volumes of customer issues. This makes a great deal of sense, as long as the company creates a cross-functional social media steering committee that works together to ensure these posts are treated as the responsibility of the entire organization – even if they are overseen by the service organization. Companies should use their social customer care program as a way to break down the organizational boundaries that have created disjointed service experiences for customers, so that they can provide an outstanding customer journey.

Join the webinar sponsored by NICE on March 29 at 1 PM ET to learn more about how to build a social customer care organization and the technologies behind successful programs. 

click here to register​
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