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Is social forcing your service and marketing departments to marry?

9th Jul 2014
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Using social media as a customer service channel is fraught with danger, as companies ranging from US Airways to Eurostar know all too well.

Despite this, there’s a growing consensus that all brands must now have a social media presence to cater for their customer service queries, with Twitter and Facebook the platforms of choice for the companies dipping their toes into these most unpredictable of waters.

All of this is putting a strain on customer service departments, and new research from Forrester suggests there’s a growing disparity between what customers expect from businesses with a social customer service presence, and what those businesses believe they’re capable of delivering.

In a study commissioned by Conversocial, Forrester surveyed an array of contact centre executives across different industries to establish that having a social customer service unit is the “most pressing short-term priority for contact centres in the US and UK”.

Despite this, only 33% of the social customer service solutions being used by those surveyed were actually selected by the customer service team, with the rest being used by marketing department. This figure highlights both the unease many customer service departments currently feel towards social, and also the wrestling match occurring between both departments as a result of not having cohesive planning for the channel.

Forrester go as far as calling it a “power struggle between the marketing and customer service departments”, and that more often than not businesses are “failing to put the right technology in place to support the complex needs of social customer service”.

Despite this, there is a growing expectancy among consumers that their customer service queries should be fixed by brands via social media. Forrester’s statistics state that between 2009 and 2012 the number of customers using Twitter for customer service queries doubled to 22%.

Most brands are failing to understand how to best use the channel, however. People still rate their experiences via telephone, website, email and SMS as being better than those via social channels, and 35% of social customer service agents state they “have to restart the conversation with a customer every single interaction because they don’t have a record of their conversation history”.

“Businesses need to realise that social doesn’t just sit with your marketing team anymore,” says Conversocial founder and CEO, Joshua March.

“Social media is a primary customer service channel alongside email, phone and chat. Our platform alone handles more than 200 requests per minute and 275,000 requests a day, so brands cannot neglect these channels. We believe that marketing and Customer Service departments should work closer together, but this comes through real human relationship – not by siloing social media into a single tool that doesn’t allow customer service to reach its full potential.”

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