4 Key Snapshots from the Social Care Summit

In my most recent post here on Social@Ogilvy, I discussed how social care must evolve. In doing so, I jumped over where we are and the current state of social care. Luckily, I had the pleasure of chairing several panels at a recent social care conference. Diverse brands were represented, from technology, banking and CPG but a few key trends emerged and I thought it would interesting to share them as they provide a great snapshot into where we are as brands and how we have — or more often have not — truly evolved care to keep up with increased customer expectations.

  • Even if originally set up by Marketing, Social Care is increasingly delivered by customer care operations teams
  • Social Care teams are typically reactive on two levels
  • Customers were already in emerging channels, social care met them there after the fact
  • Social Care current practices adhere to a speak-when-spoken-to playbook
  • Social Care teams struggle to prove ROI
  • Marketing and Care teams are separate and distinct

Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these:

  1. Social Customer Care is increasingly run by purely customer service teams— In the past it was often the case that care teams were set up by an Agency, Corporate Communications or PR team at a brand. However, we are a few years in, and migrations have occurred to the operations teams who are now servicing social as another channel. The resources dedicated to these teams include some of the best people in the customer service organization but they are now in need of social response and reporting tools that can scale. Perhaps most importantly, they need an elevated seat at the customer experience table so they can represent the voice of the customer internally.
  2. Speak when spoke to — Most brand customer service teams are reactive, addressing questions aimed squarely at their brand. Proactive contacts are typically regarded as being within the purview of the Marketing team or its Agency. Social Care solves problems while Marketing deals with promotions and engagments. It is quite possible then that a gap exists between the two communication streams, i.e. who handles a customer who mentions a promotion but has no explicit question. Does anyone open the door to a conversation with that customer? Current best practices seem to dictate “No.”
  1. ROI remains elusive — A customer service person can’t prove that fielding an issue via social media prevents a call to the contact center. Perhaps more importantly, in keeping with #2 above, issues reach social care only after they have bubbled over the top of the traditional servicing channels. This is very much in keeping with the genesis of social care — as a damage control valve that was quickly grafted onto the organization.
  2. Marketing? Service? Or something new? For several years now, a few phrases have flown around concerning where customer service needs to move in light of social media. I am sure most of you are familiar with “Customer Service is the new marketing” phrase which was popularized by the folks at Get Satisfaction a few years go. Increasingly, I am hearing now that customer service must build a bridge to marketing. All this may be missing the point, since both ideas imply that customer service and marketing can remain static and simply work better together. Instead, we need a new organization, a hybrid between marketing and care.

In short, what if it the bridge is the thing?  The thing that connects the two teams is the new model under which we will be doing business. As marketers and agencies who typically push the brands to adapt and meet new expectations, it’s up to us to determine what this new reality might look like for our clients.

Perhaps it’s easiest to think of it this way. As brands, we’ve poured technology, resources and money into the customer service pot — and yet it’s still boiling over. Maybe it’s time to stop trying to fix the old model, or worse, only deal with the angry customers who boil over. Instead, it’s time to do things differently and embrace a model that uses social principles as the underpinning of a flexible care team closely aligned with the brand. That’s real progress.