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Customer Service vs. Marketing: The Battle Over Social Support

by Anaal Patel, Vice President of Marketing, Sparkcentral - January 9, 2018

Customer Service vs. Marketing: The Battle Over Social Support 

By Anaal Patel, vice president of marketing, Sparkcentral
Customer-obsessed companies leveraging social media to engage and spread their marketing communications face an interesting challenge as customers use these same channels for their own direct inquiries. In most companies, marketers are tasked with outbound messages to increase awareness and popularity, and when used effectively, social media is a great tool for achieving these goals. However, greater visibility tends to correlate with an increase in questions and concerns among the surge in overall engagement. In many scenarios, the responsibility of addressing questions and keeping customers happy on social media channels has fallen on marketers’ shoulders. While social media provides companies with an abundance of marketing value – are marketers really best equipped to effectively manage customer issues and questions addressed on social channels? 
When Worlds Collide
Customer service agents, who are well-versed in keeping customers happy during challenges, are often left out of the social customer service spectrum. While the internal structure varies from company to company, marketing and customer service teams largely remain separate. As a result, departmental challenges arise when the need to provide a timely resolution and response to issues comes into play on social. All too often, the response to a customer inquiry on social media is to drive customers to more traditional customer service channels, like email or phone. While a marketer may have the best intentions to provide a timely, public response and avoid the issue achieving greater reach, customer service’s goal is to reduce the effort for the customer to avoid a negative impact on the overall experience – and driving customers to another channel is contradictory to reaching that goal.
Consider the social media performance indicators for each role. Marketers focus on likes, re-tweets, shares, clicks and other engagement metrics that do not directly resonate with customer service teams focused on service times, customer priority and resolutions. Considering that consumers are 44 percent more likely to switch brands after a poor customer service experience, according to research by NewVoiceMedia, companies need to resolve this customer service tension - and fast. Even with the most advanced social engagement technologies, a successful social customer service program relies on companies’ internal division of customer care responsibilities between customer service agents and social media marketers.
To help companies provide the best possible customer care more effectively, here are four ways customer service and marketing teams can align their social media efforts: 
o   Open the door for customer service teams. While marketing teams serve as the party gatherers on social media, customer service teams make sure attendees are happy. For agents to work their magic, they first need a way to actively measure and respond to problems and carefully evaluate each concern that comes in through social media. Without real-time access to these insights, marketers are left to tackle issues on their own – creating more internal inefficiencies and risking a substandard experience for the customer.   
o   Provide the technology needs for both. Marketing technologies provide value in learning more about customers, their interests and preferences, but customer service is a different playing field with its own needs. Considering the performance indicators customer service agents prioritize, solutions should be evaluated to determine if they support the overall customer experience - which includes customer service. Ideally, both teams can work collaboratively in building customer profiles to foster an ongoing, documented relationship.
o   Collaborate on customer profiles. To eliminate inefficiencies and costly misinformation, both marketing and customer service teams need real-time access to complete customer profiles. This goes beyond customer interests and past purchases to include questions, complaints, issues and other customer service interactions. In order to provide resolutions as quickly and seamlessly as possible, teams need access to the entire customer relationship – including the good, the bad and the ugly.
o   Transform good experiences to great ones. The key to establishing long-lasting customer relationships begins with transparency and authenticity. Practical resolutions are good, but taking the time to communicate openly and make sure customers are truly satisfied makes a good experience great. These experiences alone then become powerful marketing tools. Customers are more likely to advocate for a brand that took their time and troubles seriously, compared to one that delivered a quick response - and a feeling of being kicked to the curb.
By integrating social media with customer service and support, companies have more opportunity to delight their customers through effective and timely responses. Much like their taste for personalized marketing messages and promotions, consumers have high expectations when it comes to customer service. Responding to customers in a way that creates more effort, from switching channels to repeating their information or inquiry, can have significant impact on customer relationships. Since social media interactions are public and constantly scrutinized, companies taking the opportunity to showcase their best customer service efforts will not only attract business – they’ll retain loyal, lifelong customers.
About the Author
Anaal Patel’s expertise in digital customer engagement and building brand loyalty stems from nearly a decade of experience in the marketing and technology space. As vice president of marketing for
Sparkcentral, Anaal leads marketing and communication efforts for the leading social and customer engagement platform, which empowers clients such as Delta Airlines, JetBlue, T-Mobile and Uber deliver amazing customer service experiences.

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