Guest Column | July 17, 2018

Embedding Social Media Into Your Service Model

By John Hamilton, President, Service Strategies Corp.

Embedding Social Media Into Your Service Model

Customer Facing Social Communication

As the name implies “Social Media” evolved as a social way to connect. Most millennials heavily embrace Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. as their preferred means of connecting with friends, sharing information and as a primary news source. Social media has now become very pervasive in our daily lives and is overtaking the more traditional forms of communication.

Businesses have realized that Social Media is more than just socially connecting and are therefore attempting to leverage it as a critical customer facing communication channel. Service organizations by default, have the most interactions with customers and need to take a leading role within their company to effectively manage the social media communication channel. There are several levels of maturity to migrate through before a company can effectively manage social media for true customer engagement.

Here is a brief description of each phase of the customer facing social maturity model:

  1. Observer – A company in this stage may be listening to social media, or they may be oblivious to social media. They may have limited reporting capability, but they are not prepared to handle situations when customers complain on social media.
  2. Marketing Centric – A company in this stage has a social media presence (Facebook, Twitter) and they use the channel for broadcast marketing. The company’s social media strategy is developed and executed by marketing with minimal customer service involvement.
  3. Customer Service Reactive – A company generally moves to this level of maturity out of necessity when things consistently go bad (social media fires). Customer service becomes more engaged with dedicated resources and teams that work reactive queues to deal with social media customer communication.
  4. Customer Service Proactive – A company in this stage begins to be proactive in their customer communication. They may offer how-to and educational information on social media that is posted in a systematic, methodical way as part of their overall social media strategy.
  5. Customer Social Engaged – When a company reaches this final stage, the lines begin to blur between marketing and customer service. Customer engagement on social media becomes seamless proactive social media service and marketing becomes one voice. Social media systems and technology enable social media business intelligence.

Social support is no longer a nice to have for companies, it is quickly becoming a must have. Social media vendors will continue to make it easier for companies to provide a more compelling customer experience on social media. It won’t replace face to face or telephone support, however it can augment service delivery by providing a convenient alternative channel.

When it comes to customer service communication channels, an important distinction needs to be made which involves dividing the channels into two types:

  1. Ones that are OPEN and more transparent: Communication between your customer and your company can be seen by others including competitors and other customers. Includes all forms of social media and all community forums.
  2. Ones that are CLOSED and not transparent: Communication with a customer and your company is closed to other customers. Includes all forms of customer communication that takes place between your company and a single customer (not necessarily a single individual).

Deciding on the degree of transparency is a conscious decision that must be made. For this model to be successful, companies must have a process in place to transition social interactions to private communication when appropriate and closed or private communication to social and open communication when appropriate.

If you are interested in learning more about how to apply Social Media to enhance your service capability and other critical Leadership skills, you can attend the Service Leadership Training.

The Service Leadership Course offers technology service executives an opportunity to unleash their full leadership potential. The four-day training course teaches participants advanced leadership skills and provides the tools to fully develop and execute a comprehensive strategy for their service organizations. Upon completion of the course, participants will have the skills necessary to successfully lead a service organization with confidence and purpose.