This post is next in our series on social media customer service. There’s plenty of online chatter about the need for companies to provide customer service on social media channels. There are also many case studies showing a positive return on investment for social customer service. The overall agreement is that social customer service is not a choice but necessity.

Over 44% of adults now use the web to share grievances about products, with companies expected to interact with companies online and get a speedy response. [Source: The Rise Of The Social Customer]

However many companies are still struggling with the planning and execution of social customer service. Why is that? There are multiple reasons but one of the key reality is that providing good customer service on social channels has a unique set of challenges which makes it far more difficult than passive social listening or social marketing with light engagement.

Key Challenges of Social Media Customer Service

To understand the challenges of customer service on social, you need to consider these factors.

  1. Lack of Native Support by Social Channels. Social Channels were not created with customer service as a primary use case so they lack the process and support needed by organizations to effectively manage service operations
  2. Multiple Social Channels and Properties. Each social network or channel has its own interface, terminology, data structure and restrictions e.g. Facebook pages are a very different species than Twitter
  3. Robust Monitoring Needs. You need to monitor keyword mentions anywhere on social web (indirect mentions). You also need to monitor conversations directed at you on your own social properties. And you need to do both in near real-time
  4. Response and Tracking Across Multiple Channels. You need to have the mechanism to respond to conversations AND track and measure these interactions
  5. Governance. Customer service activity volume can be high, making it difficult to coordinate the efforts. You need the appropriate policies, process and team – and the right online tools to facilitate the team work, collaboration while providing the governance controls such as audit, logs and performance management

Our recommendation is for you to start with your business needs and goals and work on a plan which includes the right metrics, product and team. Calibrate the plan based on your goals, scale, budget and social media maturity.

As you can see, many of the stand-alone social monitoring or social media management products simply do not have what it takes to tackle social customer service.

In our next post, we will talk about a checklist to help you with the operational and product needs for social customer service.

Image Credit: Jason Davies

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