A couple years ago brands started recognizing social media as a viable channel in which to engage customers, respond to their service inquiries, and foster relationships. Despite their initial and continued investments in technologies and strategies to incorporate service into these emerging channels, the majority of companies today still lack ownership and understanding of social media.
A new Forrester report, commissioned by Conversocial, reveals this knowledge deficit. This is in large part to marketing's ownership role of social in many companies. The study points to how 33 percent of the social customer service solutions being used by those interviewed were actually selected by the customer service team, with the rest being obtained solely for marketing purposes. The study also found that 35 percent of social customer service agents have to restart the conversation with a customer for every single interaction because they don't have a record of the customer's conversation history.
Conversocial Founder and CEO, Joshua March said that businesses need to realize that social doesn't just sit with your marketing team anymore. Social media is a primary customer service channel alongside email, phone, and chat. "We believe that marketing and customer service departments should work more closely together. But this comes through real human relationships--not by siloing social media into a single tool that doesn't allow customer service to reach its full potential."
I joined Joshua and Conversocial's customers from Hertz and JackThreads for dinner last week in New York City to discuss the report and to hear about their own social service efforts. Laura Smith, senior director of service excellence at Hertz, said the company employs a dedicated social service team consisting of agents who are brand ambassadors. Because Hertz believes in customer engagement and empowerment, they aim to resolve customer inquiries at the first stage of contact. As a result, Smith said Hertz resolves 100 percent of its social media interactions within the social channels, avoiding the need to escalate to the phone.
For David Tull, customer engagement manager at JackThreads, social service means interacting with customers on a "human" level, getting agents to go off script. Because the bulk of JackThreads' social conversations revolve around the product, agents are encouraged to ask customers product-specific questions like, how they liked the fit of a specific shirt. "I'm a big believer that no relationship can survive if you wait for things to go wrong," Tull said. "Social engagement helps us to buy into that."
Both Hertz and JackThreads prove that listening to customers and empowering agents go a long way in building brand advocates and fostering customer loyalty. March said that can happen successfully if companies fully integrate their social programs into customer service. "When a customer reaches out for help, they don't care what channel they're in; they just want their issues to be resolved."