Social Media For Customer Service Is Here To Stay, But Businesses Unclear About Ownership!


Of all the uses of social media in enterprise context, I was and still am a big fan of using social media for crowdsourcing. There have been numerous incidents [here, here, here] where businesses have leveraged crowdsourcing to maximize and in most cases get a better finished product out of the initiative.

Social media may not be a crowdsourcing platform in pure sense but it facilitates the spread of the initiative thereby getting more people to participate. However, with the advent of twitter especially a new use case has emerged for business use of social media namely Customer Service.

social media for customer care

The real-time nature of twitter has proved instrumental for customers to reach out to businesses and those organizations who have got it right have managed to win brownie points for their customer service. Comcast’s customer service via twitter has won the brands not only happy customers but enormous positive buzz.

There are numerous similar case studies where social media has proven its mettle as a real-time customer service platform. No wonder then that senior executives realize the potential of using social media for customer service. A survey of C-level executives from Capgemini presents some interesting insights on how businesses and senior executives perceive social media in parlance of customer service.

  • 52% of the surveyed senior executives indicate that social media is currently a part of their customer care operations
  • 57% of execs see social media as a way to garner customer input and insight on products and complaints
  • 36% of execs mentioned that they measured the value of its social media program for customer care. This is rather interesting because despite the onset of lot of monitoring & analytical tools, I wonder what framework is being used to measure the efficacy of social media efforts for customer care

Social Media Is Being Used For A Lot Of Initiatives In Enterprises

57% executives consider social media as means for inviting input on product and services, lead generation, responding to customer complaints, internal reporting and measuring customer satisfaction.

These are all commendable use cases for social media in business setting. However, I am curious to know if internal collaboration is a use case missing from the equation here. In my earlier article highlighting Google+’s positioning as an enterprise social network, one of the key highlights I put forward was internal collaboration. There are definite privacy issues but I think social media could still be leveraged for internal collaboration

Outsourcing Of Social Media Management / Monitoring Is High

Majority of companies consider outsourcing social media management / monitoring programs though around 48% of the companies using social media for customer care seem to be doing it in house. No surprises here given the number of SMM firms opening by the dozen every day.

For businesses, the newness of the platform and lack of defined guidelines does make it easier and efficient for them to outsource it to an experienced third-party provider. However, customer care is a tricky subject and there are too many case studies of social media gone wrong when firms have outsourced their social media programs.

So, it is evident that even though companies may not know the magic formula for using social media as a customer care tool, they prefer to do it in-house.

Who Owns The Social Media Program For Customer Care?

This is one of the most critical aspect of social media usage for customer care. Ownership of the customer care program is a grey area for majority of companies.

Most executives (73 percent) are unfamiliar with how many employees at their company are currently dedicated to “listening” to customer conversations on the internet, and most executives whose company is using social media activities with respect to customer care (64 percent) rely solely on their marketing department for social media monitoring.

Social media for customer care involves a lot of key aspects along with the know-how on customer issues and such. Communications is a critical component on social media and companies would want to moderate brand’s voice on these platforms. Similarly, CRM teams need to be involved to facilitate a solution for customer query thereby skewing up the ownership dynamics.

This could be one reason where the “real-time” response to customer complaints takes a hit. With confusion regarding the ownership of social media program, there might be multiple approvals sought which sometime may defeat the customer care program on a real-time platform like Twitter

Yes, it is still early days when it comes to using social media for customer care but executives realize the power and importance of the platform. With time, the frameworks and the governance models are expected to mature lending more efficiency to customer care initiatives via social media. However, the dynamics of social media platforms are constantly evolving and the addition of new platforms like Google+ will only make it even more difficult to get the formula right.

What are your thoughts on the power of social media for solving customer complaints? Frankly, on the basis of how some Indian brands are going about this I am personally not sold on the idea but then it is a more a problem with the execution then with the idea itself.

What are your thoughts on the same?

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