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Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer Service

You are a Customer Service hero.

You lead teams of hundreds or thousands of customer service superstars, delighting customers at every turn.

You can rattle off each day’s service level for the past month and still remember it’s your wife’s birthday tomorrow.

You know the phone number for every pizza place within 10 square miles.

And you know the importance and impact social media has on your business.  You were wise to see this trend was not fading away, and becoming an integral part of our everyday lives.  You may have seen that social media’s true potential lies in the value of building stronger relationships with your current customers and letting them share the good word of your business, creating beautiful virtuous cycles.  And if you are a Superhero, you may have realized social’s is the most real, unbiased voice of your customer.

But your social media solution was built for someone else; someone who doesn’t measure SLA’s or cares about production per hour.  It was built for Marketing.

Let’s compare Marketing’s priorities to your own:


Odds are your social media marketing solution was built to reach as many people as possible and look at aggregate numbers versus handling individual customers and making sure they were assisted in a timely and efficient manner.  It’s like using a hammer to insert a screw; you can do it, it’s just messy.  The right tool is critical to getting the results you are looking to achieve.

Within the past couple years, companies have developed social media customer service tools that are built based on the priorities of customer service departments.  Product innovations such as conversation threading (pulling from historical conversations), calculating accurate turn-around-times or SLA’s, measuring agent productivity and efficiency, seamless workflow, and managing risk (i.e. archiving for Compliance).

Recently, Forrester administered a survey to 150 senior contact center executives with headcounts ranging from 100 – 5000+ agents to better understand how dedicated social customer service solutions compare to the marketing’s social media management tools.

Forrester Finding: 45% of standalone Customer Service Solution users rated their ability to measure & optimize the productivity/efficiency of agents as Excellent, versus 10% of free solution users and 8% of Social Media Management Systems

Social Customer Service Game Changer: If you are looking for which option gives you the best Return on Investment, dedicated Customer Service Solutions clearly outshines free (you get what you pay for) and Marketing based Social Media Management Solutions.  Customer Service focused solutions allow you to:

  • Deliver against SLA’s or Turn-Around-Times (top 3 priority of social customers)

  • Understand agent activity and productivity

  • Add smart workflows

  • Optimizing the process benefits both the customer and the company

Forrester Finding: 36% of standalone solution users rated their standardization of delivery of SCS across agents as Excellent, versus 25% of free solution users, 25% of SMMS users

One of the largest concerns for Customer Service leaders is the “rogue” agent or someone who provides inconsistent brand messaging.  This concern is also one of the greatest reasons why Marketing departments are reluctant in handing over the keys to social media customer service to the service organization.  By standardizing delivery, leaders can feel more comfortable agents are staying on brand point, and being the social face of the company.

Why Your Brand Needs a Dedicated Social Customer Service Solution

Dedicated Social Customer Service solutions allow customer organizations do what they do best – serve the customer.  They are not meant to be the bullhorn of your organization, reaching as many people as possible, or focused on adding subscribers.  The Social Customer Service solutions provide the tools to deliver what customer service heroes (like yourself) and customers actually want:

  • A timely and awe-inspiring social customer experience

  • Manage the scale and cost of your organization

  • Be the advocate and listener for the customer

  • Ensure a well-managed and limited risk organization

  • Tools that work for your associates

Our society’s social journeys and experiences are still in the early stages, and the need to be accessible to our customers via social channels is only going to grow stronger.  Soon customers will be banking from their cars or ordering groceries from their refrigerators.  Their watches will be monitoring their heart rates and transmitting real time data to their doctor.  For those customers under 30 years of age, they do not even remember life without the internet.   A social texting application was just sold to Facebook for $19 Billion.  

Whether your organization is actively participating and engaging customers for service or considering dipping your proverbial toe in the pool, having the right tool is critical to your success.  Dedicated social customer service solutions provide the experience, scale, risk management, and agent satisfaction that a hero, like yourself, needs in their organization.

Join The Conversation

  • Delfin Vassallo's picture
    Jul 29 Posted 2 years ago Delfin Vassallo

    We run a hyper-complex multilingual global social customer care operation so I might have a couple of things to add to this discussion.


    I have seen many vendors, many, and there is no such thing as the best tool for social customer service purposes. Sorry but no, all tools have yet to nail down many details to truly provide a solution that helps operationalise social care. That is why you end up with 2, 3 or 4 standalone applications to round up all your needs.


    If currently, there is the perception of “social media marketing tools” and “social customer service tools” it is because vendors have developed them in that way. Why? Because more often than not within organisations they are still different areas working separately, and the change to adapt to the new social customer reality takes more than the dreaming of one tool provider.


    Integrated social infrastructure or dedicated tool? There is no right or wrong gents, it all depends on how the brand is organised and how one or another approach best solves their needs.


    Moreover, what both Josh and Jeremy seem to overlook completely is the fact that vendor tools are just a small part of the equation. First, you have to figure out the processes you need to deliver the experience you want for your customers; secondly find and train the best talent to drive the operation; then, and only then you choose the most suitable technology which main characteristic should be to ADAPT to your objectives, processes and metrics, not to DICTATE them.


    This blindness is clear from one of Forrester’s statements: “Ability to provide accurate and relevant answers over social channels rated as excellent” this is certainly misleading. It is not up to the tool to do that, but depends on the process behind, how well you have trained your agents and most importantly which product information resources you put at their disposal.


    Adaptation ability, speed to evolve and integration with more social platforms (other than Facebook and Twitter) is where ALL social tools vendors are miserably failing I am afraid.

  • joshuamarch's picture
    Jul 16 Posted 2 years ago joshuamarch
    Hi Jeremy, thanks for your long and thoughtful response. There are obviously differences in opinion in how to approach this complex topic. My approach has been born out of years spent actually working with major enterprise customer service teams and building solutions to meet their needs; both as founder & CEO of Conversocial, and before that as co-founder of iPlatform, one of the world's first preferred developers for Facebook. If there's one major trend I've observed over all of these years is the increasing ownership of social media by customer service.  
    I won't argue with you on the credibility of Forrester, an extremely reputable analyst firm, other than to make clear that the survey was administered 100% by their analysts — we did not send it to any of our own clients or have any infuence on the responses. You yourself promote a Forrester Wave on your homepage. 
    You can't ignore the simple fact that marketing and customer service do have different objectives and different requirements. Trying to separate out social media into its own silo doesn't help this — in fact, it hurts. Yes, social has many unique attributes that have opened the way for software like ours to stand alongside the old guard of enterprise software giants. But as a customer, you don't care about 'channel', you simply want the best possible customer service experience, one that is seamless across different communication platforms (whether you're emailing, in-store, or tweeting). This can only come through deep integration of social into the contact center.
    It’s impossible to deny that different departments in the organization need different software to achieve their dedicated tasks. Should the goal of all organizations be to provide the best customer experience? Absolutely. Is the answer to make everyone use the same software? Absolutely not. Do you really think companies should have one giant piece of frankentstein software that tries to do every single thing across every business function?
    Huge multi-purpose suites used to be the approach in traditional, on-premise enterprise software — because you had to install and manage the software on your own servers. But the cloud makes that approach redundant. With no need for a single technical infrastructure, and APIs that allow data to be shared across channels and platforms, delivering the best metrics, processes and workflow for each department becomes the most valuable approach. That's why the leading SaaS venture capitalists are betting on best of breed over suites. A true 'single view of the customer' comes from integration of data across CRM and other contact channels — not by pushing different departments to use the same tools. 
    Calling customer service a 'point solution' while dismissing the need for real customer service metrics, and the need to deliver the same level of service over social media as other channels, just shows an ignorance toward both what customers want and the needs of a large contact center operation. The main issue with all-in-one social media management systems is that they are really built to serve the needs of marketing (as the Forrester survey backs up), having the minimum needed to do basic service and other functions, without paying attention to the metrics and management tools that allow a contact center to deliver an awesome customer service, across channels, at large volumes. 
    In contrast, our complete focus on customer service is what allows our customers to get amazing results — like Herz having a first response time under 10 mins, or JackThreads social interactions having a 97%+ positive sentiment — while having the deep customer service processes and metrics that allow them to resource and manage social media as highly efficient customer service channel. Those are the results that both customers and companies really care about. 
  • jer979's picture
    Jul 15 Posted 2 years ago jer979

    Full disclosure: I'm VP/Marketing @Sprinklr.

    Let’s leave aside the natural question that pops into most people's minds about how accurate and credible a vendor-sponsored survey with a small sample size can actually be and just go to the key point: Josh’s argument is symptomatic of an incorrect worldview about the nature of social, its impact on business, and how brands need to adapt.

    I’ll explain.

    Josh is arguing that DEDICATED marketing point solutions can't help customer care teams and, by extension, dedicated customer care social solutions can't help marketing teams. He's 100% right about that.

    However, by suggesting that marketing and customer care should continue to exist in silos, he is pushing brands into a dangerous position and setting up a false choice for the market.

    Josh is reinforcing the exact problem that makes people hate interacting with customer care so much to begin with: disparate parts of the business don’t know what on earth is going on anywhere except right in front of them - and the customer can tell. 

    If we've learned anything from social, it's that customers that have bad experiences choose to amplify them at massive scale. They don't think about their experience with customer service or marketing, they think about the experience with the entire brand overall, regardless of the touchpoint.

    Think about your own experiences. When you contact customer care, do you expect the enterprise to know who you are, your every purchase, and your every inquiry? Of course you do.

    And, if you are engaging with a marketing team around a new product promotion, would you appreciate it if they knew that last week you had a customer care issue? Of course you would.

    In other words, is it important to you when you are the customer (and to your customers when you serve them) to be viewed as one person by the entire brand, regardless of the touchpoint where you choose to engage - marketing, customer care, HR, PR, etc?

    Point solutions with a view to serving the metrics and standardization of just one function fail to care at all about the experiences that a customer has when they are in someone else's silo. The door is left wide open for lousy customer experience. This is something none of us can afford in the age of the empowered and connected customer.

    With all of that said, we’d still be stuck with this problem if the market hadn’t matured over the last few years. Thankfully it has.

    Making a choice between point solutions is a waste of time. Why not just choose an integrated social infrastructure that serves the social best practices of every business function and doesn't reinforce existing business silos?

    That's what Citi did to reduce response time by 20% and Groupon did to get SLA response time to 97% compliance in 45 countries.

    In Sprinklr's worldview (and the 500 enterprise brands who share it), the only way to maintain the context of the relationship at every touchpoint is with a unified social infrastructure that underpins the various teams, functions, divisions, and locations, and will integrate with back-end systems.

    Without that, the customer care team doesn't have the context they desperately need to serve the customer. Point solutions alone fail to deliver that context  and in the age of social that’s just not acceptable. 

    However, there is one thing on which Josh and I can definitely agree.

    We both appreciate the advertisements of National Car Rental, an approach he used quite well in his introduction. 
    I've used that myself a few times.

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