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The questions companies have when adding social to customer service

At the closing session of the Parafest conference that I attended, and at which I spoke about Social Media and Collaborative solutions, the
product management of Parature shared this slide. The slide represents
the results of polling customer, throughout the conference, about their
concerns, their questions, about adding social channels to their
customer service efforts. I know the slide is a little fuzzy but I am
hoping to make it just a bit clearer through this post.

Can I add Social Media Channels with my current staff?

To fully answer this question without knowing your business, your agency, is impossible. However, understand that interacting with
customers on social channels will initially add more work and more cost.
The reasons, simple:

  • In order to be successful in the long run you must define a business plan and understand how social media will
    weave into your existing strategy.
  • You need to set up Social Media Usage guidelines and make these part of your HR policies, IT policies, and
    train current staff as well as all new hires.
  • You need to find tools to use. Fortunately, you can start with free tools for monitoring and for engaging in the conversation.
  • You must track your activities and tie the conversations into your workflow.

And that, is just a small set of the things you must get in place. Done well, you will achieve real cost savings, more positive
relationships, and increased customer satisfaction survey. However,
this requires you putting the time and effort into truly engaging and
tying these systems and channels into your overall workflow. If you
simply create a Facebook page and Twitter account and do nothing with
them you have simply wasted your time.

Which of our customers are on Facebook (or any other Social network)?

This is always a tough question to answer. However, keep a few of these statistics in mind:

  • There are more than 100 million Twitter accounts in existence today and more than 300 thousand new accounts are created daily. Of those
    accounts, around 11 million are regular users. More than 55 million
    tweets (messages) are sent daily. See this post on some other great twitter
  • There are more than 400 million Facebook accounts and more than 50% of these users login daily. 35 million, roughly 10%, update their
    status daily and more than 20 million people a day become fans. See this post on other great Facebook statistics.

You must take the information above, marry it to your knowledge of your customers (current and potential) and decide if they are on
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Plurk, Flickr, or any of the other sites
that matter to you.

Also, use Google searches to look for conversations taking place about your market, your company, your key people. If they
are taking place on these platforms you may want to participate.

Will Social Media Support be added volume?

Absolutely. You will be engaging with more people, having more conversations, and having to decide how these conversations fit with
your overall communication plan. The good news is if you do it right,
and take these conversations and convert them into meaningful knowledge
base articles you will ultimately create a richer customer experience
and deflect many customer questions later.

Also, by engaging with these customers on the channels where they live, you are building a relationship that could lead to stronger brand
advocates, more leads, higher customer retention rates.

Who manages Social Media? Marketing or Customer Service?

Typically, management of social media begins in marketing. In my view the most important thing is that marketing and customer service
jointly own, jointly take part, in the customer communication. These
two organizations, which should become part of one newer organization
that works to deliver a consistent message to existing and potential
customers, must work together to communicate consistently with the

What types of conversations are happening?

Customers and potential customers are sharing stories, experiences. They are complaining, as well as celebrating, daily about your company
and others. It is your job to amplify the positive, learn from and
address the negative.

How will we benefit from Social Media as a support channel?

Meeting customers and potential customers where they are is never a bad thing, obviously. However, the benefits depend entirely upon your
goals, the strategies you use, and your tactics, tools, and people.
Social media should always focus on delivering real business value.
Relationships are critical, of course, but they do not pay your bills.
The benefits you should be looking for include:

  • Reduced operational cost for support. Again, up front it will cost more but over time it will allow greater scaling of your support
  • Lead generation. Finding those that have an interest in the problems you solve, your products, your services, becomes easier once
    you are part of these conversations. Not only should you look for a
    great number of leads being generated, you should look for better
    qualified leads at the same time.

How do we measure satisfaction with Social Media?

Let me ask you this…. How do you measure satisfaction today? Social media is just another channel to interact on, right?

What other questions do you have? Do you have alternate viewpoints to my thoughts above?


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Arvind Nigam

Nicely written John. Opposed to the fact that there are 400+ million users on FB, an individual user uses FB only to relate to his social-circle. That user dates, plays games, pokes and things like that. Interruptive marketing approach fails in such a social tree and numerous failures have already been covered by gurus like Seth Godin.

To make a better use-case of social media for gov 2.0 is to let individual organizations have their own social sink (which integrates with FB connect, Twitter signin etc etc.) where customers/citizens come down and easily submit their voice/idea or rant to generate a conversation among like minded individuals (or at least people who are facing the same problems).

IMHO Government 2.0 has to be about listening and not just broadcasting, and for that specific listening tool have to be deployed.