Forrester Research's report "Getting Social Customer Service Right" by Diane Clarkson, online customer service analyst, stresses the importance of eBusiness professionals working across interactive marketing, publication relations, and customer care to successfully execute social marketing and social customer service.
Clarkson points out early in her report that although social media was "born and nurtured" in PR departments and marketing, the medium proves to be maturing in the customer service department.
Her reasoning is that, "Because the essence of social media is having conversations, and customers want to talk about their experiences and get resolution for their issues. While the public nature of these conversations means they fall into marketing and public relations' purview, the customer service implications are becoming more important."
Clarkson cites the book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, published in April 2008. The central thesis is that marketers use social media to assist their customers support one another. She is quick to explain that much of what consumers and businesses know about social media has changed since April of 2008, specifically with regards to growth. Clarkson states that 83 percent of American adults are active within social media.
She cites AT&T as an example of a successful switch in tactics:
"After initially using social media for marketing and public relations, AT&T has shifted its focus to customer service in an effort to improve its brand favorability. Susan Bean, who leads social media strategy and execution at AT&T corporate communications was recently quoted in a leading media publication saying, ‘With marketing, we discovered that for social media to be successful we really needed there to be customer care. Otherwise, all anyone would want to talk about is: solve my problem.'"
Clarkson noted the following trend among Forrester customers that are expanding their social customer service objectives:
- Facilitating: helping customers help each other with peer-to-peer, using support forums, and ask-and-answer functions
- Resolving: developing customer service objectives within specific social media channels.
- Redirecting: taking the customer complaint and redirecting it to the appropriate customer care representative
Clarkson writes that an optimized social media support strategy requires all of the following:
- Objectives and goals that different from online marketing
- Alignment with customer service metrics.
- Integration into customer service technology
- Distinct skills to meet social customer service goals.
Clarkson concludes that the distance between social marketing and social service will ultimately decrease. Although many organizations differ in how social media is centralized, successful customer service strategies call for collaboration between marketing, public relations, customer service, information technology, and eBusiness.
"Companies that fail to recognize the unique objectives and metrics for a social support strategy from the outset will struggle to implement a meaningful collaboration and will compromise their undertakings. Successful companies will shorten the distance between social marketing and social customer service, making it easier to ensure that the most appropriate resolving, facilitating, and redirecting strategy will identified and well implemented," writes Clarkson.