3 Mistakes That Undermine Using Social Media for Customer Service

In just five years social media has gone from an innovation in customer service to a requirement. Not every company is getting it right.

learn more about Ekaterina Walter

By Ekaterina Walter • Feb 20, 2015

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Five years ago, social customer service was barely a blip on anyone's radar. Only 10 percent of organizations used social channels for customer service. This small pool included risk-takers, like Comcast, with a tolerance for potential failure.

When Comcast established @ComcastCares in March 2008, it was a big deal. The global media and tech company was using Twitter to provide customer service at a time when many other brands didn't even know the meaning of a tweet. Comcast was widely celebrated for the company's innovative use of social media. They deserved it.

But that was five years ago.

Related: 6 Reasons Social Media Is Your Secret Weapon in Customer Service

Today, the adoption of social media as a customer service channel has jumped to nearly 60 percent, according to research from Aberdeen Group. By the end of this year, that figure is expected to be 80 percent.

Social customer service is no longer an innovative risk, it's something you're expected to have. It's no longer a discussion of "if" you should do social customer service, but "how." Many companies might not be getting the "how" part right.

Here is the thing. If you build your social care program to be an independent entity, you will fail. Social media is not something that exists on its own, disconnected from the rest of the organization. Social customer care is not limited to marketing or customer service department, but is instead an enterprise-wide responsibility. Your customers don't care if they are talking to your service, sales or marketing department. All they want, and expect, is an amazing experience, no matter who they talk to and what channel they do it on.

Every single department plays a role in providing remarkable brand experience to every consumer they touch, and hence in retaining and acquiring customers and growing revenue.

Here are three reasons why your social customer care programs might not deliver results:

1. Different teams use different tools.

When you have multiple social media accounts on multiple social networks, customer-service related issues can come from anywhere. If you're still managing things natively, you'll miss these conversations entirely. If your company uses multiple disparate tools, things will fall through the cracks. It's critical to get the right customer issues to the right team, which means you'll need multiple departments working in the same environment. Upgrade to fuller, comprehensive software solutions.

2. Your approval processes are not optimized.

Depending on the industry and sensitivity of a message, up to dozen different departments can be involved. You need to find a way to optimize your approval process so that if there is a crisis, it doesn't take you days to form a response. I recommend creating custom approval paths through a social management system that can map to your existing processes. If your legal team needs to see something, for example, they'll get notifications within the platform and via email. This eliminates the need for word documents and spreadsheets. It also keeps messages in one environment, which will streamline and speed-up internal communication. And it provides detailed history and governance compliance.

Related: It's No Longer a Question Whether to Use Social Media for Customer Service

3. Lack of integration across people, processes and technology.

The people interacting with your brand on social media are often the same ones interacting with your brand in real life. Uniting your social media platform with your traditional CRM system is necessary to link social profiles with customer information. This way, you'll know that "John Doe" isn't just someone posting on your Facebook page… he's also a loyal customer.

Integrating with your content asset management systems is critical as well. Companies spend thousands of dollars producing content that only one or two departments use. If you provide assets to your content company-wide, you will not only increase engagement, but will unify brand message and decrease costs.

It's also important to connect your social customer service with your paid social activities. The worst thing you can do when a customer complains about your products/services is to serve them with a promoted post. Unfortunately, this will happen if your paid efforts aren't integrated with your day-to-day social media management platform. Integration across paid, earned and owned social media in one platform enables you to create automatic rules that prevent users who have raised complaints from being targeted with ads.

Social customer service is something that should live beyond your customer service team – even beyond your social media team. Every department is connected to the customer experience, and thus has a customer service responsibility. The other part to this argument is that every department now has a customer. Your public relations team, for example, might consider news outlets a customer. To your human resources team, employees might be the customer. Every department has a customer to whom they owe a positive brand experience across the board and at every brand touchpoint.

This seamless brand experience is only possible when you optimize your internal processes and break down the walls that separate departments. It's only possible when you make customer experiences a company-wide mission.

Related: The 7 Musts of Customer Service on Social Media

Ekaterina Walter

Author; Speaker; Global Evangelist, Sprinklr

Ekaterina Walter is a Global Evangelist at Sprinklr, a complete social media management platform, based in New York. She is the author of Wall Street Journal bestseller Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013), co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Video, and Social Media to Market Your Brand (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014), and she blogs at EkaterinaWalter.com.

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