I’ve been writing on this blog recently about how social media tools are moving far beyond just customer service alone. There is something new and challenging about a completely transparent channel of communication that is changing the fundamental structure of some organisations.
This is no surprise. At Teleperformance we have talked for years to people who run customer service departments and as the customer experience has become more social we have seen more and more people within the different departments of our clients involved in decisions about social media.
Usually the first step is to explore how customer service impacts on the marketing team. With agents openly speaking on behalf of the brand, good service becomes a marketing tool – try searching for ‘customer service’ on Twitter and you can see horror stories and enormous praise side by side.
But with all this transparent activity there is often a need to get the sales team involved, because good marketing leads to sales opportunities, and the operations team because promises made in open forums online need to be backed up by what is possible to deliver to the customer. The HR team needs to figure out the implications of a team of agents publishing in the company name and directly interacting with complaints and praise. The legal team needs to cover all bases regarding the risk of all this real-time activity – what happens if an agent decides to have fun with the corporate Twitter account on their last day in the job?
Clearly the transparent nature of social network conversations with customers makes this far more than just an additional customer service channel – entire companies are being changed from top to bottom to accommodate this type of communication style.
A few years ago, JP Rangaswami, the Chief Scientist of Salesforce.com said that companies would soon stop banning Facebook and would start resembling Facebook. His comments were misunderstood at the time, and possibly even mocked, but now every department of every company has to find a way to fit into a system of transparent communication where customers can share and discuss their requirements – sounds just like a Facebook wall to me.
Photo by Mari Smith licensed under Creative Commons