The world of social has changed dramatically over the past few years. What started as a simple means for brands to communicate in a one-way, “broadcast” fashion to consumers has evolved into a multidimensional web of platforms and immersive media channels that make it easier than ever to engage with consumers in almost every way imaginable.
One part of this new social media dynamic is customer service. Initially, brands were a bit reluctant to shift customer-care efforts from traditional to digital. This mentality made sense for a while because the benefits of making this shift hadn’t really been pressure-tested to the full extent yet, not to mention, customer service had traditionally been entrenched in call-center operations.
But, guess what? The customer changed that entire dynamic for us. They decided where they wanted to be served by brands and required marketing and customer-care teams to follow suit, quickly.
The brands that decided to dive head-first into the world of social customer care were true pioneers. They set the stage for what has now become a rather commonplace practice today. And this is truly a great thing because it’s pushed the boundaries of what social media is, as well as what it can become in both the near- and long-term.
As we look toward the future, though, there’s one major problem with this scenario (and it’s a serious thorn in my side): Social media marketing still seems far too disconnected from social customer service. Even though we know just how important it is for these stakeholders to be aligned, industry analysts have reluctantly admitted that bringing these two together is just too complicated for most organizations.
For those that are able to accomplish this feat, however, the end result can be game-changing. Unfortunately, there are a few common roadblocks that all too often stand in the way of allowing this alignment to happen.
Three ways to overcome the social marketing vs. social service divide
First—and this is truly the biggest offender—marketing and care teams simply aren’t talking to each other. This still baffles me, even though I fully understand why it happens: It’s a matter of different teams with different goals. They simply don’t see eye-to-eye.
Unfortunately, this is extremely inefficient, especially knowing that both teams are at the center of the customer experience. Creating a great digital customer experience is not just about marketing or just about customer service—it’s dependent on both and a lot more. Why not work hand-in-hand to plan and execute customer-facing campaigns? (This really isn’t a question. You should do this.)
Second, how brands manage customer relationships needs to be re-examined. If you’re using your customer-relationship-management system—and thinking that it’s the end-all, be-all of your customer-centric marketing and service strategy—it’s about time you gave this a second thought.
Don’t get me wrong: CRM systems are crucial. They play an important part in the customer lifecycle. But you’ve got to remember that a CRM program is basically just a customer database. This sits at the edge of a customer-centric model and is truly far too tactical in nature to meet the heightened expectations of today’s ever so demanding customers.
You’ve got to do a lot more than simply communicate regularly to your database to maintain positive customer relationships. This is a perfect example of marketing operating in its own silo. CRM can’t provide a great digital customer experience on its own. The minute a customer clicks through to a landing page is when the magic really happens. (Here’s a hint: Customer care plays a big part in this, too.)
Third—and perhaps a byproduct of the above more than anything else—the way in which brands implement technologies and platforms to create a more streamlined, efficient and effective digital customer experience is also incredibly siloed, as well.
At Lithium Technologies, brands would initially reach out to us to learn more about either our Social Media Marketing or Social Customer Service products.
But lately, those conversations have changed. They no longer ask about one or the other—they now want to know more about how to effectively manage the end-to-end digital customer experience via streamlined technologies and platforms.
We know that this is the true catalyst for efficiency and overall effectiveness (https://www.lithium.com/pages/social-media-has-grown-up) as brands seek to evolve and mature their social media efforts. Even so, it’s become our role to constantly change the conversation, reminding brands that “social,” as a whole, needs to be approached, implemented and executed as a single, unified program.
So, where does this leave us today, especially as many of us have already started to think about the year ahead? If the point hasn’t come across crystal-clear, let me reiterate: Make 2018 the year in which you create a stronger connection between marketing customer service.
We need to get out of the “one or the other” mindset. Creating memorable digital customer experiences doesn’t happen when teams and organizations operate independently.
Remember, your customers don’t know who they’re talking to when they reach out to ask questions, get more information or voice concerns. They just want to have a positive experience with your brand (consistently) and get whatever information they need, quickly.
Breaking down those silos will not only make you more efficient—which is always a good thing—and help you immediately achieve measurable results, but it will most certainly get you closer to your customers. And that, my friends, is what drives business value.
This article was originally featured in AdWeek on January 30th.
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