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Social Customer Service Using Social Media to Revolutionize Customer Service


Making the Change to a Social Approach

Getting to a social service model clearly requires making some significant changes to both the operational processes and the organizational thinking about service’s role in the success of the business. Getting there can be fraught with difficulties. Forrester Research’s Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, whose focus is on customer service, suggests five best practices for applying social media to customer service.

  1. Take ownership. Stay focused on your real mission – delivering great customer service – and fight to keep sales and marketing from controlling the agenda. It’s important to understand what they need, but that can’t interfere with the processes you develop to address tactical problems. If a social service approach is employed in the right way, improved sales will follow naturally.

  2. Figure out who you want to reach and set out specific goals. Don’t merely experiment – learn who your target audience is and craft your service approach around them.

  3. Focus on the customer experience. Make sure that you are ready to engage in two-way conversations. If and when possible, engage and develop "super customers" who can act as allies and expand your presence in an authentic way.

  4. Understand the roles of different CRM technologies. Most social service strategies will rely on multiple channels. Learn which ones work best for your audience, and keep learning – as new tools emerge, monitor which ones your customers are gravitating toward, and adopt them yourself.

  5. Figure out the costs and build a real business case. Even if some benefits are intangible, you can assign them a value and weight them against the technology investments you may have to make. Know your risks, and understand when you have to cut your losses.

She also suggests a bit of shock therapy to get the process moving. "Social media has what I call 'a spotlight factor', it takes issues people have with your company and puts them out in broad daylight for everyone to see" she says. "If you have the guts, take some of those comments, put them in a Power Point presentation and show them to the C-level executives. When they see them, they’re going to say, 'What? They’re saying what about us? This has got to stop!' All the barriers to budget seem to melt away when leadership is confronted by these new facts."

"The service professional has to show that the customer is demanding more now and using more channels to interact with them and that the customer wants to choose how they want to interact with the company," says Greenberg. "The key to convince management isn’t social, per se – it's being able to show how the customer wants to engage. For example, it could be that they mostly want to engage via phone – traditionally, in other words. So be it. But increasingly, there are anecdotal successes, like Frank Eliason’s Twitter team at Comcast, or the ACT service community at Sage (powered by Lithium) that show how service can work in alternate ways that have a potentially excellent ROI. The are a lot of stories out there to make the case – which is what I’d wholeheartedly advise customer service professionals to do."

Next: CRM & Social Customer Service Pitfalls >>

CRM Social Customer ServiceCRM Social ServiceCRM Social Service ApproachCRM Social Service Pitfalls



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With social media, how the customer is handled in either a crisis situation, or one that can lead to making that customer an ardent advocate of the company, takes on more than just a “we have to solve the problem” one- to-one. It has brand implications and future sales implications.

—Paul Greenberg


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