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Social customer serviceimgCustomer engagement over social channels can cover any and every topic under the sun. This is either a nuisance to the organisational designer who likes to organise customer engagement by queue and category or a welcomed benefit given the internal chemistry it triggers.

Now Customer Services has fresh reasons to engage with Marketing as co-managers of the brand. IN exploiting service successes for customer sourced content marketing and healing the ‘whoopsies’ as fast as possible with effective outreach and resolution. Given the visibility of social interaction, Marketing is now aware and so appreciates this contribution to their mission. The seeds are thus sown for a new era of collaboration.

In truth it is one that becomes increasingly essential as part of the new behaviour needed to survive the consequences of digital disruption. In other words, we are now in the era of ‘One Agenda’ for all customer facing teams.

Beyond that new ‘best friend’,  Customer Service also potentially has a new relationship with anyone involved in fixing stuff or indeed innovating stuff as a result of customer suggestions - a habit more common in peer to peer support communities.

This changes another fundamental in terms of Customer Services’ internal social standing. Instead of being seen as separate and removed from the core commercial goals of the organisation, they become an indispensible partner. Others start to recognise that their work is noticed by customers who become more or less likely to do business as a result. Customer Service’s internal value is thus transformed.

Customer service teams that do social engagement well can expect to find all sorts of new friends and allies as a result. The smart ones will realise they can move away from the ‘tactical cost’ category into the ‘strategic value’ category. And with that upgraded status can come a fresh willingness to invest: one that has starved the customer service industry for so long in terms of recruiting top quality and developing smart service infrastructure.

At least that’s the optimistic version of where all this is trending.

This Year’s ‘Must Achieve’ Goals

All this brings us back to present time and the issue of how many organisations have yet seized this opportunity and are delivering praiseworthy service experiences over social. While there is still some conflicting signals coming from social monitoring organisations as they standardise how they generate their benchmarks, a number of things are already clear.

  • Growth in social interactions continues. More organisations are experiencing double digit volumes.
  • Social network loyalties fragment further as social users mature beyond their first platform and leave to find better suited alternatives with their peer group. This is expanding the complexity of the service ecosystem.
  • Global responsiveness over Twitter and Facebook is behind the pace when compared with surveys capturing customer expectations. On average we can expect to wait around six hours, yet a third of customer already want to be answered within the hour. Moreover many customers experience being ignored completely. Forty percent for Facebook, sixty percent on Twitter.
  • The gap between leaders and laggards is becoming more pronounced as is normal in an immature market. The best travel and retail brands get back to over 95% over customers within the hour consistently.

Of course these high performing examples will cement expectations and cause a gradual standardisation over the next few years. Something all sectors will have to come to terms with. This will not be easy for some. Both in terms of catching up with the learning involved and also dealing with a scale of demand that is yet to manifest.

This expected upsurge is based not so much on any reputation that social customer service is better than legacy channels. Rather it reflects the momentum created from widespread smartphone and tablet ownership, combined with the ongoing deployment of faster and cheaper wireless access.

This will continue to fuel growth in the next phase of social interaction between customers and their organisations as overall communication habits continue to transform.

Watch Martin’s recent webinar, ‘The outlook for social customer service’

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