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Gartner has assessed the impact of social media on customer service for years, but only within the past three years have customer service organizations started to take social media seriously as a channel for providing support, according to the company’s new report titled, “How to Manage Social Media Engagements for Customer Service.”
In its report, Gartner highlights actions brands must take to meet several challenges related to managing social media engagement.
Specifically, here are the key challenges:
Many organizations are struggling to meet 24/7 customer service demands, and social media has made it easier for customers to ask for help, or complain, even when customer engagement centers aren’t “open.”
There is little or no pattern to organizations’ approaches to social customer service—operations are inconsistent even among organizations in similar industries and geographies, as well as among those that have similar incoming volumes.
More than 70% of social customer service organizations operate with social-only agents. This keeps the divide between social and traditional customer service alive.
Here are the report’s recommendations:
Determine how many customer service representatives you will need to dedicate, part-time or full-time, to social customer service; base this on your organizational objectives and the volume and complexity of incoming social media posts.
Develop a means to extend the business hours for social customer service management, even if it’s not 24/7.
Ensure that your social customer service organization is a part of your overall customer service organization through the integration of people, processes and technologies.
Social customer service organizations are largely separate from the broader customer service organization, largely because of people, processes, and technologies, the report notes.
From the perspective of people, more than 70% of social customer service agents support only the social media channel. This figure typically comes from the customer service organization, as hand-selected by management and often based on demographic. Although it is satisfactory to have customer service channel specialists, the people managing social customer service need to understand their place in the larger schema of customer service.
Gartner estimates that organizations will attempt to solve this problem by having blended agents, rather than by developing blended processes. By 2018, the report says, 75% of social-only customer service agents will be blended into the customer service agent pool.
“Ensure that the customer service leaders in your organization start with their people as a first step in making social customer service a part of an overall customer service strategy, but that they don’t discount the opportunity to have specialist agents for social media who can be supported by processes,” the report says. “Social customer service is ultimately just customer service, and organizations are responsible for ensuring that customer service quality meets expectations across both new and traditional channels, because they're unique. IT application leaders who solidify their organizational objectives for social customer service determine how many customer service representatives they will need, develop ways to extend business hours for social customer service, and ensure that their social customer service organization is part of the traditional customer service will develop social customer service standards.”
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