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Social Media's Customer Service Impact: Value on the Sliding Scale

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Social Media's Customer Service Impact: Value on the Sliding Scale

September 30, 2015
By Steve Anderson
Contributing Writer

It may sound like a set of buzzwords cooked up by airy consultants, but social media customer service is an increasingly important facet of customer relations. With the proliferation of open letters and Facebook (News - Alert) complaining, companies need to pay attention to their web presences. A new look at this practice suggests that there are three levels of social media participation, and where a business falls along this continuum reveals how well it capitalizes on social media.

An increasing number of businesses are adding social media to the marketing mix, using it in one-sided conversations with users or to listen in on users’ perception of brand image. Astute businesses are discovering that users often take to social media to make complaints about a business' products or services, and those complaints are used as free focus groups. Some offer basic community management, and even some engagement, but at this level most issues are routed to more standard channels, particularly phone service.

Other businesses are escalating their web presence, getting in on the lower levels of social customer service. When customers express issues through social media, the problems are somewhat addressed through social media itself, instead of just telling those with complaints to call customer service and offering the number. But here, resources are often slim on the ground, with the resources often considered “on loan” to the marketing department. There aren't many standards here either, and no one's keeping much track of things like key performance indicators (KPIs).

At the highest level, however, there's a full social media integration directly into the contact center itself. Regular measurements are taken for return on investment (ROI) and similar measures, and the social media system is regarded as a channel just as relevant and vital as phone and email. More agents are involved, contact times are shorter, and the push for first-contact resolution greater. The fullest range of options is in use, and many problems are being solved directly at this level.

Image via Shutterstock

It's not that any one level is inherently “better” or “worse” than any other level—at least not for the time being—but it may well become that way in the not too distant future. With more and more customers eager to hit social media as opposed to making phone calls or sending emails, those businesses that aren't prepared to accommodate social media are likely to alienate consumers. There's value at every step along the continuum, whether it's a full-court press that puts social media on the same level as the phone call, or something as simple as using social media as a data mining operation.

Perhaps the biggest lesson to learn here is that there's always more to be done with social media than what's currently being done. Putting more investment and time into this front is likely to generate positive results, and in many cases, the more that's done, the greater the results are likely to be.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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