ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


To Be Social or Not to Be Social...That is the (Daunting) Question

Well, somehow it’s February already. The bad news is, this year is officially already flying by. The good news is that it’s Social Media Support month for ICMI! I have the pleasure of kicking of this month’s editorial calendar, opening the hot topic of social in the contact center. When the ICMI team approached me about blogging this month, my answer was an immediate and resounding, “YES!” This is a topic that challenges so many people in all different levels of the organization, from the CEO debating whether or not to allocate resources to the frustrated contact center agent who doesn’t understand why his/her company isn’t present in social.

Let’s start our discussion with a few facts (I always like to start with data!). A 2013 report indicated that 99% of surveyed companies had a Twitter account and 30% had a dedicated service handle. I’ve also seen reports that about 25% of companies are offering social support. I’m not convinced the exact stat is out there but we can all agree on one thing, the number of people reaching out to companies for customer support via social is growing. In fact, according to Social Bakers, the number of consumer questions posted to brand Facebook pages grew 85% (yoy) in 2013. Some companies are even stepping up to the unique opportunity social interactions create; the same study reported that brand response rates to Facebook posts grew from 5% in 2011 to 62% in 2013. While that’s a great stat, one thing stands out to me, what about the other 38%? What happened to those thousands of opportunities to connect directly with consumers?

Most of what I hear from companies is, “We just don’t have the resources to support our customers in social.” Most companies think they need to jump directly into the deep end, offering full 24/7 social customer support staffed with a full team of social agents. The truth is, in 99% of cases, that’s not how it works. I’ve blogged before about the steps you should take to determine whether or not social service is right for your organization. There are really two approaches:

  1. Let a high pressure situation dictate that you create a social service presence (think natural disaster, major customer issue, brand identity failure)
  2. Take the time to plan and create a comprehensive social service strategy that aligns with the overall brand mission and values.

The reality is, many companies took the first approach. They were forced into creating a social service presence and then worked backwards to retrofit that new approach into their overall service and marketing strategies. Obviously, it isn’t ideal. Ask any of the champions of those programs. Don’t get me wrong, some very successful programs were born this way. However, there is a level of luxury in the second approach that should be treasured. Having the time to plan, coordinate with cross-functional teams and socialize a strategy internally is a seeming extravagance. But it can be a reality. I will even give you the key right now, right here! Ready?....Start somewhere and start small.  That’s it! That’s really all it takes. Take 30 minutes out of your day and start brainstorming. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Are we already monitoring social conversations online? If so, who is responsible? What happens with that data?
  • Why haven’t we implemented social support yet? What’s holding us back? What are the biggest pros/cons? Fears/arguments?
  • Who needs to be involved in this strategy change? In the implementation process? Who may be the biggest advocates/naysayers for such a program internally?

There are obviously other questions you need to ask too but make yourself start somewhere. Momentum breeds change.

According to a Bain study, when companies engage and respond to customers on social, those customers spend 20-40% more. Why are you leaving money on the table? No executive would support that. So instead of asking whether or not your organization should or shouldn’t be social, ask yourself, “What am I going to do today to move us toward becoming an organization that connects with our consumers through social service?”

More Resources