Social Media – Implications and Opportunities for Service and Support
Social media has captured the attention of businesses of every kind, as well as individual lines of business. Where else can a company quickly locate current and prospective customers expressing their needs, interests, and opinions? It’s no longer a matter of preference whether you leverage social media. It’s time to embrace it, even if it is just to monitor what your customers are saying. But where to start?
Generally defined, social media is the “intelligent organization of social discourse.” It’s become a catch-all term whose meaning differs depending on the user’s perspective. A student may view social media to meet new people, interact with friends, and get up-to-the-minute updates about gatherings. A hobbyist may view social media to share their enthusiasm about their activities with like-minded individuals around the globe, while a marketing executive may view social media as a goldmine of customer information and perspectives about their company’s products and brands.
For service and support organizations, social media offers a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have related to the products and services they use.
Despite the numerous ways it’s used and perceived, there’s no question that social media has introduced a market phenomenon unlike any previously seen thanks to characteristics that differ broadly from previous forms of communication:
- Social media has created a channel that lets anyone interact and influence the market.
- There are thousands of communities dedicated to specific interests.
- Anyone can create and or join a community or simply monitor the discussion as a spectator.
- The social media market is highly dynamic, with new communities forming and others fading.
- A community’s discussion topics and tone can influence the perceptions of members and spectators.
- Social media allows anyone to create and share observations and opinions.
- The source of useful content is shifting from traditional media providers and businesses to the users and consumers of products and services.
Social Media Implications for Support
The open discussion of product-related topics facilitated by social media communities can be an extremely valuable resource to businesses. Many discussion threads relate to how people use products and the issues they face. For this reason, Support is a great application for social media. Social media creates significant new opportunities to engage unknown and under-served customers with the potential to engage more customers than through traditional assisted and self-service channels.
Support organizations need to start proactively engaging in the conversations related to their products and services and not simply wait and react when customers to reach out to them. Companies that develop and execute effective social media strategies stand to gain:
- New insights into customer needs and concerns.
- Ability to reach unknown and under-served customers.
- Opportunities to positively influence individual and market perceptions.
Social media’s ability to empower consumers by giving them the voice to discuss their problems and perceptions publicly has dramatically shifted the business/customer relationship. Companies need a strategy to engage socially with customers. Service and support organizations should view social media as a platform to gain insights about the issues, questions, and perceptions customers have about their products. If you don’t have a Social Media strategy for Support, it’s time. It’s better to start small than not start at all. This perspective describes the reasons why business, and particularly service and Support organizations, must embrace a social media strategy.
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