January 21, 2013
Social Media Fragmenting Customer Service Strategy, Report Finds
Okay, enough with Twitter (News - Alert).
That’s the word from The Economist Intelligence Unit, at least, the research arm of the famed newspaper. It conducted research last year on how new communication channels are affecting business, sponsored by Genesys (News - Alert), and one of the major takeaways is that social media such as Twitter are getting too much attention.
“Social media have dominated companies’ attention so far,” noted the Economist in the report. “Of the new communication channels, nearly half of respondents (48 percent) use social media, while SMS, blogs, forums, instant messaging, mobile applications and MMS all rank much lower.”
This is not necessarily a good trend, either.
“This focus on social media at the expense of mobile platforms raises the possibility that many companies are in reaction mode, responding as best they can to the rapid proliferation of social media, rather than developing a coherent strategy that addresses the spread of mobile technology as well.”
Business executives know that social media is just part of a larger strategy, but its rapid rise has put many companies on the defensive, the study found. Instead of taking a strategic and holistic approach to the new communication channel, too often the response is focused on putting out social media fires instead of handling the core product complaints that are the foundation of customer discontent.
“All you are doing is encouraging more people to yell because they haven’t got anywhere through traditional channels,” noted one survey participant, Frank Eliason, the senior vice president of social media for Citi.
Firms need to take a more holistic approach, the report found, emphasizing mobile communication more. But this requires better leadership, and good leadership requires a single point person to oversee a company’s overall communications strategy.
“Disagreements between the C-suite and middle management have emerged over who has ultimate responsibility for social media and mobile communication,” according to the report. “But companies which appoint one person, rather than a team, to oversee how all communication channels are adopted and used display a more integrated approach. This helps to bridge the gap between different internal functions, namely marketing and customer service.”
The report emphasizes that most executives have not yet fully digested the implications of the new communication channels that have opened up between consumers and businesses. Many firms are still finding their way, the report noted, and some executives are stuck in the certainties of a bygone era when communication was a one-way process from company to customer.
“This has created a gap between the C-suite and other staff, and between departments,” noted the report. “With most companies showing a strong bias towards social media, a gulf has also been exposed between the adoption of social media versus other communication channels, namely mobile. This, in turn, reveals a mismatch between the channels companies are using and the ones used by their customers.”
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Edited by Rich Steeves