The Blending of Marketing and Service

The rise of social media within corporations began in the marketing department. It has since established itself as an invaluable marketing tool. A recent survey from Call Centre Helper found that the marketing department controls social media in 79% of businesses. But despite this, 75% of marketers noted customer service as a primary use of their social channels.

Today, the public nature of customer service on social media can make a significant impact on your brand. If handled properly, it can be a powerful marketing tool. Take JackThreads, for instance, which proactively uses Twitter to provide style advice, address service issues, and build relationships. In one instance, after an unhappy customer tweeted his disappointment about a JackThreads order not having arrived yet, the company immediately found the customer’s order number and provided a status update. The customer responded by publicly praising JackThreads to his thousands of followers. Social media presents the opportunity to delight your customers by giving them the help they ask for in real time—and be recognized for it publicly, while at the same time generating invaluable customer insight to feed into your marketing apparatus.

Delivering great customer service is the best kind of social media marketing. Customers who complain via social media are your most vocal. By helping them, you’re helping to cultivate public endorsements: Dell has recently reported that 40% of upset customers end up publicly promoting the company after being helped by their social outreach team. These endorsements are the most influential brand promotions you can receive. Consider: A survey conducted by the American Marketing Association found that 90% of consumers trust peer reviews, and 70% trust online reviews.

The danger of failing to provide adequate customer service

On the other hand, failing to deliver great service via social can pose major risks. Complaints and questions voiced on social media are highly visible to other customers, and if you fail to acknowledge them your brand’s reputation can quickly deteriorate.

In addition to the initial brand damage (88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies when they discover they ignore customer complaints online), and the fact that you’re not responding to a real customer who’s trying to get in touch (which could result in losing that customer!), neglecting social customer service can have more disastrous consequences: People sharing poor customer experiences is the number one cause of social media crises, three quarters of which could have been prevented with the proper teams, processes, and tools in place. With consumer expectations for social service increasing constantly, the chance of having a crisis hit your company—and the severity of the consequences—is rising every day.

Effectively distribute responsibilities

Every week I meet with social marketing teams who are exhausted from spending their days answering the flood of customer service issues and complaints they’re receiving on Facebook and Twitter. But these same companies have a small army of customer service agents—the best of which, with the right training and guidance, can deliver a far better customer experience on social, far more efficiently. And with social customer service teams in place, social marketing teams can focus on bigger objectives. This requires marketing and customer service teams to work together to convey a uniform tone of voice to their customers across all communications channels and to understand how to deal with potential crisis situations. It also means that companies need to consider the different toolsets these teams might need; software built for listening or campaign management may be great for marketing teams, but not have the right workflow, team management, or analytics for customer service. 

The most successful companies of tomorrow will be the ones that understand how social media is making customer service a fundamental part of their brand. Companies have a responsibility to recognize the need for handling social customer service correctly—resolving real issues publicly, and not trying to sweep them under the carpet. Leadership must ensure that customer service departments are receiving the necessary resources they need, and that marketing departments give customer service the attention it deserves. Social media is the communication channel of the next generation, and only a collective effort from both marketing and customer service can deliver a truly positive social customer experience.

Joshua March is CEO of Conversocial.

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