Marketers Take on Social Care

November 29, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

New survey shows social marketers play a key role in delivering social customer service.

General Motors (GM) historically used separate social media handles for marketing and customer service across various brands. The company came to realize customers wanted to talk to the brand, not sift through social handles on different social channels. GM recently combined the customer care and marketing handles for two of its brands, Buick and GMC, after finding that customers weren’t differentiating between marketing or customer care.

“Marketers have assumed additional responsibilities around customer experience that cut across many activities, such as social customer care,” said Jay Wilson, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

Gartner for Marketers interviewed hundreds of social and mobile marketers for the Digital Channel Survey 2016 to better understand the current and planned use of social and mobile marketing activities, how marketing is organized for these activities and how these activities support digital commerce. The survey uncovered an evolving, and increasingly important role for social marketing to deliver social customer service.

Social marketers manage social customer service

According to the survey, 65% of social marketers indicated that marketing is primarily responsible for managing social customer service interactions. This percentage is similar across B2B and B2C marketers. Resolving customer problems isn’t usually the expertise of the marketing department so those teams should partner with operations and customer service closely. With these partnerships in place, marketers can potentially turn social care into a brand differentiator.

Use service data to drive customer experience insight

Marketers should then leverage insights from service interactions – such as rich unstructured text data paired with customer and conversion data –  to better understand the customer experience. These interactions can provide more focused insights than broad organic social listening and analytics because they’re tied to a specific point in the customer journey.

Ensure consistent delivery

Link customer contact data to provide a seamless experience, whether via call center, email, chat or social. Recognize that from a customer perspective, customer service is customer service, regardless of channel. Collaborate with customer service teams to ensure customers experience a cohesive support experience with empathetic, timely, solution-focused responses, even if they switch channels.

Marketing also needs to inform customer care approaches.  For example, if marketing touts a product’s ease-of-use as a wilsonbenefit, customer care interactions should amplify, rather than contradict, that positioning.

Focus on customer solutions first

Prioritize the satisfactory resolution of customer questions and complaints over marketing opportunities such as upselling and cross-selling that may emerge during such interactions. Remember that customer interactions should be assessed against service metrics, such as time to resolution, even if supported by marketing.

Evolve social care

Marketing’s role in social customer care continues to evolve as social channels multiply and customer expectations for timely and relevant interactions grow.  Facebook’s Instagram, for example, gave businesses the option to add a “contact” button, so that customers could reach customer care directly from the social network. The Digital Channel Survey 2016 found that nearly two-thirds of marketers plan to increase their investments in social engagement and social customer service technology in the coming year.

Consult with the customer care team to determine investment objectives for social customer care and engagement technology (e.g., improving customer satisfaction, increasing the customer retention rate, etc.). Compare notes to see if the objectives align with business strategy.

“Marketers need to work closely with customer service teams to ensure that care interactions enhance, rather than detract from, your customer experience,” said Mr. Wilson.

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