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Should Social Media be the Responsibility of Customer Service or Marketing?

Should Social Media be the Responsibility of Customer Service or Marketing? 

Social media is a way of life for most of us. Whether they’re continuously checking Facebook, have an uncontrollable urge to tweet (or read posts), or use LinkedIn to find a new job, consumers (Millennials and Boomers) are spending a great deal of time in these environments. In many cases, people spend time on social media because they are bored and are searching for the immediate stimulation and gratification they get from interacting on these sites. Sometimes consumers are hoping to achieve a specific goal, whether sharing what they deem an important idea with anyone willing to read it, or catching a company’s attention.

While a large percentage of the posts (and pictures) are considered “noise” by anyone who reads/sees them, a growing number of these conversations are relevant and need to be addressed by the company to whom they are directed. Therefore, DMG believes that social media is a service channel that should be properly staffed.

Marketing vs. Customer Service

Debates continue about which department in a company owns the social media channels – is it marketing, customer service, or a special group of people dedicated to this function? It’s actually a funny question, as social media can’t really be owned by anyone. No one can control what happens in social media, and the best a company can do is to be positioned to respond to posts on a timely basis.

To avoid having consumers use social media to embarrass companies into doing what they want by having negative posts go viral, it’s essential for companies to align the handling of social media interactions with the policies and procedures that are followed by their other customer-facing departments, including customer service, sales, collections, etc. This is not to say that when a consumer uses social media to “right a wrong” the company should support an inaccurate answer given by one of their employees. Instead, it means that anyone responding to social media posts should be fully knowledgeable about all of the company’s policies and procedures. However, it’s also important for social media agents/marketers to be outstanding communicators who can quickly write effective responses. Ideally, a social media specialist should be fully trained to handle all customer service issues and be a great writer – a mix of customer service and marketing skills – which is the reason why the debate over social media “ownership” continues within enterprises.

DMG’s Recommendation

It doesn’t matter if customer service or marketing oversees the social channel. What’s important is that the two departments work together to ensure all customer questions and issues are resolved correctly and on a timely basis. If customer service takes the lead in handling and managing social media posts, marketing should provide them with a series of templates and “canned” responses so that agents can respond using a standardized “company voice” that aligns with marketing’s brand message. When something unique arises, and it will, customer service needs to have immediate access to someone in marketing so they can jointly prepare an appropriate response.

Alternatively, marketing can be the group primarily responsible for responding to social media inquiries. The marketing employees who handle these interactions need to go through customer service training so consumers will receive consistent answers regardless of which channel they use to interact with the company. Additionally, marketing needs to set up goals and service levels for responding to social media posts, to ensure they are handled on a timely basis. Lastly, marketing will need access to the enterprise’s case management solution so they can track the actions taken on behalf of each customer.

DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.

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