Social customer care is a team sport—are you all in?

When our brand new Samsung TV started acting up, I didn’t even think to call or email the customer support team. Instead, I went straight to social media to air out my frustration.

Within minutes, Samsung responded and helped me slide into their DMs to investigate my case further. The agent (Nick) was kind, knowledgeable and connected me with the right team to solve my technical issues. And when Samsung didn’t hear back from me, several days after my TV was working again, they even reached out to make sure my case was truly resolved. The entire experience was fast, seamless and demonstrated just how much Samsung cares about its customers.

As consumers, we celebrate the brand experiences that are prompt, personalized and make us feel valued by the brand. And according to the latest Sprout Social Index™, 76% of consumers notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support. It’s not enough for brands to just engage with customers before and during the buying process. Consumers want to be surprised and delighted at every step of their journey, and brands that deliver on those expectations can turn someone into a life-long customer.

While today’s business leaders don’t need to be convinced of social customer care’s value, they do need to answer who in their organization should own those efforts. But the reality is that social customer care requires the input and collaboration of multiple teams. For shared ownership to be productive rather than chaotic, everyone who touches social customer care needs to be on the same playing field.

Social customer care is everyone’s responsibility

Considering how social supports nearly every facet of the customer journey, brands recognize the need for social customer care to be treated like a team sport rather than the responsibility of one owner. According to the latest Sprout Social Index™, only 24% of businesses say social customer care will be exclusively owned by marketing or customer service teams in the future.

Historically, it used to be that whoever owned the keys to a brand’s social channels was responsible for effectively addressing customer inquiries, concerns and feedback. Social media managers would attempt to juggle their own marketing priorities while also serving as the liaison between consumers and service teams. Consider this familiar scenario: A customer asks a question on social, the social media manager emails or Slacks the service team, then responds back whenever they have an answer. Sometimes customers are redirected away from social entirely and asked to repeat the details of their situation via a form or other channel. As a result, the responsibility is placed on customers, with resolution times spanning days instead of a couple hours.

Now imagine that same scenario where the marketing and service teams are working in harmony. Service agents don’t have to wait for social marketers to triage messages in order to resolve customer complaints. Likewise, social marketers can focus on activities that best harness their expertise instead of chasing down answers that could be easily addressed by the service team. It’s this collaboration between teams that enabled Casey’s, for example, to increase their response times by 90%, ensuring their customers always have a positive experience when communicating with the convenience store chain.

Expecting one team, or one person, to manage every online consumer interaction sets your brand up for failure and ignores how customers actually want to engage. But coordinating stakeholders across multiple departments to align on one cohesive customer care strategy presents its own set of challenges. The more players you have contributing to social customer care, the more essential it becomes to have a sophisticated playbook that keeps everyone in sync.

To scale, you need the right tools and workflows in place

Collaboration between teams is just one half of the social customer care equation. You also need the tools and processes to effectively engage with your customers on social, something only 30% of brands have invested in. It’s not enough to hand the keys to social over to your customer service agents—or pull your social team into your helpdesk platform. Everyone needs to be able to access and act on the right information without relying on others for direction. Here’s why:

Increased efficiency: With a central solution, brands can achieve economies of scale because your team builds expertise on one tool rather than multiple point solutions—reducing time spent training and onboarding team members later. An intuitive customer care platform can streamline the workflows between marketing and service teams by democratizing access to social data and insights. Increasing transparency across teams makes it easier to see who is handling what, reducing miscommunications and ensuring every interaction is properly addressed. Atlassian, for example, utilizes Sprout’s Tagging capabilities to quickly assign tasks to the right teams and always keep conversations with customers moving.
Stronger risk management: A shared social customer care platform also helps brands mitigate reputation risk because all teams get the full view of what’s taking place on social. Complaints made on social are publicly accessible by other customers and competitors, and we’ve all seen what happens when a post about a bad customer experience goes viral. With a unified tool that gives all teams a window into what people are saying about your brand, social media marketers and customer service agents can shut down reputation nightmares before they spiral out of control.
Top-line growth: Finally, consolidating your social customer care tools gives brands an opportunity to transform their customer care strategy from a cost center into a growth engine. When brands can maintain a 360-degree view of their customer, they can use those insights to surprise and delight audiences at scale and salvage potentially negative experiences. With the right context and the right teams in place, even inquiries about a defective product or order gone wrong can transform into an immediate or future purchase.

There’s no “I” in social customer care

If social customer care is a team sport, it’s not enough to have one superstar taking all the shots. You also need a deep bench of people and resources to stay a step ahead of the competition. Brands need to implement tools that enable teams to access the data they need to respond effectively, while also putting insights into the hands of those working to improve the overall customer experience.

At the end of the day, your customer isn’t concerned with who responds to them—only that you do so in a timely and meaningful manner. While those standout customer moments do require the full cooperation of multiple teams, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of simple workflows or solutions. By eliminating silos and democratizing access to social across their organization, brands can consistently deliver personalized service that keeps customers loyal for life.

For more data on how brands can evolve their social customer care approach to stay ahead of the competition, download the Sprout Social Index™, Edition XIX: Breakthrough.

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