This past week I had several opportunities to be part of conversations with people who are making great strides in their social media efforts. However, the main focus of their efforts has been to get their message to their audience. They sense there is something missing, benefits or opportunities they are not tapping into and that is why I was brought to the table.
There is a common theme I am hearing more and more which is that social media belongs in the realm of customer service. There are many case studies out there that show the damage a disgruntled customer can do to a brand through social media. More and more brands are monitoring social media sites to put out fires before they spread and a few are pro-actively reaching their customers to say thank you or offer additional information.
So what is missing?
One of the companies I met with this week was struggling with getting their customer service group to participate in social media. The challenge that they face is one that is common across all companies I have met with; the belief the social media belongs in the marketing or communications department. The problem is that social media contains conversations, and those conversations span across all departments from sales leads to customer service opportunities, to consumer generated ideas for new products and services to technical collaboration to influential discussions about financial projections and so on and so on. How can one department filter and appropriately respond to all of these conversations even in a reactionary way, much less work to be part of these conversations in a proactive way?
The answer is to encourage and guide each department to make involvement in social media part of their daily responsibility. Of course for those who feel they have enough on their plate already that may seem simply overwhelming, not to mention many people still do not see the point.
So how can an organization motivate their teams to join the online conversations? Show them the value.
For a customer service team who goes through the day responding to concerns and issues, answering the same questions over and over again, show them the value of being able to build a community where frequently answer questions are discussed in detail, challenge the community to provide suggestions and ideas that make the conversation multi-directional as opposed to the team always answering customer questions. Finally, invite the customer service team to the executive table to share the insights they have gained from their interaction with the customers.
If active participation in social networks is designed to help your team do a better job and contribute to the overall direction of the company, more people would be willing make it part of their responsibilities and in the end, everyone from the customers to the employees, to the owners of the company, will benefit.