Customer Service Turning to Twitter, Facebook

The use of social media for customer service is rising among businesses, but hurdles to implementation remain.

The use of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and others is an ever-expanding and critical part of the business landscape, according to the findings of a survey by advisory and think-tank ThinkJar and CRM software provider Sword Ciboodle. The trend also touches customer service departments, the poll of U.S. and U.K. companies with midsize to large contact centers shows.

Overall, businesses polled have strongly embraces social channels. The survey shows that 59 percent of organizations have adopted Twitter, 60 percent have adopted Facebook, and almost 85 percent of those who are using one, are using both.

Although social channels are widely used, businesses are still struggling to justify the use of social customer service, the report said. Factors such as organizations' size, market specialization and business location affect their use of social media channels. Integration of data, as well as finding the right balance between social customer service and more 'traditional' channels, is an important part of what companies are wrestling with, the report said.

As it turns out, size does matter; larger organizations are likely to have more mature policies in place for social media and customer service. For example, 40 percent of respondents in companies with 1,000 or more contact-center agents said that their social customer service initiatives have been in place for at least two years. In contrast, 53 percent of companies with smaller contact centers said current programs were implemented within the past year to two years.

The reasons behind the move of all companies, regardless of size, to social customer service are still based on the maxim "the customer is always right." The survey shows that 56 percent of respondents said they implemented social customer service due to customer request, compared with 40 percent that put the programs in place to keep up with competitors.

"What's important for every organization to realize is, while social channels are constantly evolving, they are not new anymore," Mitch Lieberman, vice president of market strategy at Sword Ciboodle, said in a statement. "The most successful customer service program will happen for businesses that incorporate social into their overall customer-engagement practices, and really keep pace with the way their customers are communicating with them in all areas."

Small and midsize businesses are still struggling to figure out how social media applications can boost their business, according to the findings of a recent survey from SMB DigitalScape. Only 19.5 percent of small-business Websites have a link to a Facebook page, and even fewer have links to Twitter and LinkedIn, according to the report.

This article was originally published on 05-04-2012
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