Social for Customer Service: it’s About the Customers

How can organization embrace social channels and technologies to improve customer service?

I must’ve heard this question every day in the past 6-9 months.

The intent was not how to do twitter, how to leverage Facebook, or should we use Klout scores for customer service – it was very specifically about how customer service departments can embrace it.  It was getting so ridiculous that together with my friends at Ciboodle we conducted a research report to answer those questions. We got nearly 400 responses (some of them very interesting) and you can get the report here if you want to read it.

I am not going to give you a full summary here, we do have a great executive summary if you are not interested in reading the data or the whole report, but I wanted to cover two issues that came out of this study:

  • How today’s processes are faring in an increasingly social world
  • What is the value to the organization of embracing social channels and tools

We asked the question of how processes used to support social channels compared to those processes used to support traditional channels.  Overall, the answer was (almost) as expected: 2/3 of organizations have not created processes yet as part of their social adoption, they are more or less living day-by-day and trying to figure out how it will play out in the long run.  At this early stage of the social journey that is not very surprising.  We then cross-tabulated those answers against the length of time they had been supporting social channels – and this is where we got some interesting data.

The table below shows the results of that cross-tabulation.  (note: we did not have sufficiently large numbers to make the conclusions final but it does indicate where the mindshare of the market is in relation to this question):

Equally defined Less defined More defined
0-6 months ago 11 12% 32 15% 3 20%
6-12 months ago 21 23% 50 23% 1 7%
1-2 years ago 27 29% 53 25% 3 20%
2 years ago+ 21 23% 18 8% 4 27%
not there yet 12 13% 61 29% 4 27%

n =

92 214 15


When using social channels, processes are less defined – almost by a ratio of 2:1.  Among those that claimed their processes were less defined, the majority were those that had been doing Social for between six and twenty-four months.  The ones that would be a more logical choice (those just starting out, below six months of experience) to have less defined processes are not – showing how newcomers to this set of channels and tools understand how it is no different than any other channel implemented before: it has to have a strategy, integrate well into existing processes, and don’t change the way experiences occur – rather augment them via a new set of channels.  Clearly delivering similar experiences via new channels is in the mind of those that are just starting as well as those that have been doing it for a while.

The second issue we spotted was the value to the organization of embracing social channels.  We asked respondents to identify what were the benefits they were seeking from embracing social.  We asked them about the two most often cited reasons to adopt any channel: to meet customers’ expectations or to save money.  The difference between these two reasons is a slant towards a customer-centric, efficiency view of the world (saving money) versus a customer-centric, effective view of the world.  The table below shows the results:

Primary Benefit

Secondary Benefit

Deflected phone calls 13 3% Deflected phone calls 27 7%
Increased customer satisfaction 95 24% Increased customer satisfaction 55 14%
Increased loyalty 31 8% Increased loyalty 45 11%
Increased revenue 6 2% Increased revenue 17 4%
Intangible benefit 35 9% Intangible benefit 39 10%
Met customer expectations 55 14% Met customer expectations 37 9%
Not using social channels just yet 71 18% Not using social channels just yet 67 17%
Reduced cost of customer support 20 5% Reduced cost of customer support 22 6%
No Answer 74 19% No Answer 91 23%

It is very clear from these results that focusing on meeting customer expectations, and exceeding them, is the main driver for social channel adoption having been quoted not just as the top reason overall, but also as s secondary reason for organizations to adopt social.  The reason organizations deploy these channels is not driven by outbound company-centric needs but to give customers what they want, need, and ask.

The rest of the report is actually even more interesting and proved many other things – but to know what, you will need to download it and read it.

And give us your comments.

Many thanks.

(note: this post was cross-posted at Sword Ciboodle’s blog)

CRM Idol 2012 – And So It Begins…

Starting today at 7 AM US-EDT CRM Idol 2012 (the second season) begins.

The experience last year for all participants, in their words, was incredible.

They learned amazing new things about their companies and products.  The discovered new ways to present their products to the market than they had ever before.  They found new ways to talk about their companies, the people in them, and their passions.  They encountered mentors and advisers that pointed them in directions they never expected to go before – and they found countless success along the way.

Five of the companies that participated have, since then, been acquired and go on to become larger, more focused and better empowered organizations.  Virtually everyone we talk to from the first season said the competition helped them understand how to take their product to the next level.

Now it’s your turn.

Starting today at 7 AM US-EDT you can apply to be a contestant in CRM Idol 2012.  All the information you need, and the application form, can be found at the CRM Idol 2012 web site.

If you are  software vendor in the Americas, EMEA, or Asia Pacific regions – you want to apply.

Go to the website, apply to be a contestant.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.