5 ways to integrate social media marketing, customer service and sales

How do you get customer-facing teams, which often have very different goals, collaborating on social media? We've identified 5 ways to get started...

How do you get customer-facing teams, which often have very different goals, collaborating on social media? We’ve identified 5 ways to get started…

social customer service strategy

Marketing, service and sales are the three main touch points for customers online and their actions play a key role in defining customer experience. Yet, in most organisations these teams still operate either completely or partially independently.

In the ‘good old days’ of junk mail, press releases and limited telephone support – it didn’t much matter if one department caused a headache for another: it was invisible to customers (and often to management). But with the emergence of social media, disjointed communications have become far more visible and damaging. Customers have also got more demanding and less forgiving. There is now a genuine imperative for different teams to collaborate and work to one agenda.

Join us on March 3rd for a free webinar: How to integrate marketing, service and sales. Luke Brynley-Jones will be joined by Charles Stanton (Bupa, formerly of British Gas), Yossi Erdman (Appliances Online, ao.com) and Adam Kay (Shoutlet) for this fascinating 1-hour discussion and Q&A.

These teams have worked separately for so long that this evidently isn’t going to happen overnight. Each department has different skills, goals, tools and values, and sees things very differently. Asking them to work as a united team may seem quite unnatural to them.

Social media marketers are used to pushing out information and generating positive engagement with the aim of increasing brand awareness and generating leads. Meanwhile, customer service teams can now listen and respond in real-time with the aim of preventing problems, supporting customers, improving customer satisfaction and increasing retention.

Sales teams are now also jumping into social media listening to identify leads and snatch dissatisfied customers away from competitors. Peer1 Hosting in the UK announced in 2013 that they’d identified 55 such leads in the previous year, amounting to £800k in value.

Knocking down the barriers between departments will be a gradual process, but here are a few places to start:

 

1) Integrate technology

Technology has certainly made closer integration possible. It is now relatively easy to assign tweets or incoming interactions to specific teams or team members. What’s more, you can also see the entire conversation history so you know exactly who has done what and when and there’s no risk of duplication. This can go a long way to making the customer experience much more consistent. Being able to store or view customer data and interactions using social CRM solutions also makes team collaboration easier.

Technology can also be a barrier to integration though. If marketing has just invested in a whizzy new social media monitoring, CRM and sales suite that doesn’t have a ticketing process, assigning or quality control – it simply won’t work for customer service.

As with all things, if implemented right technology can take you part of the way, but it needs to have the right culture behind it.

 

2) Maximise face-to-face interaction

Different teams are going to be far more sympathetic to each other’s needs if they actually know each other and have regular interactions. Having them working from the same location can be a massive boost, but if that’s not possible, ensuring they meet on a regular basis will help. Email won’t cut it – there should be face-to-face interaction, or a very active Enterprise Social Network (ESN).

 

3) Get senior staff buy-in

If you want to align the goals of your customer facing teams your senior management team needs to understand the value of doing so (and the risk of not doing so). Usually this requires demonstrating what can be achieved with a truly integrated strategy and highlight the dangers of a disjointed approach – using examples and case studies of social media crises. Not only will this help to articulate your approach across the business, it will also be much easier to find the resources you need.

 

4) Train your employees (or hire multi-skilled staff)

Evidently your staff need to understand the different roles of different teams, how they should be interacting on social media and how they could be co-ordinating their efforts. Every department should have the necessary skills to use social media, which means marketers should understand how to respond to customer service issues and customer service should understand how their work impacts on marketing. After all, a happy customer is a fantastic marketing opportunity. This multi-skilled approach is anathema to how most organisations currently approach human resourcing.

 

5) Develop an integrated social media strategy

To align the efforts of different departments, it’s essential to develop a social media strategy that encompasses the strategies, methods goals and metrics of all different departments. Again, this sounds easier than it usually is. Marketing tends to have the largest budget and the CMO sits at the top table, alongside Sales, Operations, Finance etc. Several pegs down, Customer Service tends to struggle for budget and a real say in any major decisions.

As a result – the framework for agreeing collective objectives is always skewed in favour of the (marketing dominated) status quo. Until organisations adopt a longer term strategy, incorporating lifetime customer value and brand reputation, it’s very unlikely that these very different teams will reach agreement on a shared agenda.

 

Thankfully, case studies of organisations with highly integrated social media strategies are emerging. We will be featuring some of these over the coming days and will discuss them in our webinar – which features who major brands who are facing up to this challenge – next week.

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