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Social customer service needs to be integrated with larger business

For social customer service to be effective, it needs to be integrated with other aspects of the business, including sales, marketing and product development.

As companies try to gain an edge with customers in a competitive landscape, they are finding that social media platforms are a source of potential benefit. With social media platforms, companies can hone customer service and augment their interaction with customers on customer service calls and in email, all within a medium that can relay important information about customer preferences.

"More and more service interactions are taking place over social channels," said Brent Leary, a CRM expert and a principal at CRM Essentials, discussing recent data on social media and company operations from Social Media Today. "It's still nowhere near traditional channels like phone and email. But you can definitely see the trend, and it's a steady rise. Part of those interactions is around trying to get some sort of support … which allows an organization to help other areas of the business, like develop products and services."

Companies that haven't integrated their social customer service strategy into other business processes can't gain the benefits of this insight. So, for example, companies that learn about a product defect on Twitter but don't have an integrated social media strategy may not be able to communicate these problems effectively and quickly to product management teams. The defect may cause the company some damage among customers before the company has an opportunity to fix it and address it.

So, say experts, having a social strategy requires that companies develop a way to integrate social customer service with the rest of the business. "The deepest … integration level seems to be at the process level," Leary said. "Being able to take those shared insights and shared them strategically in other areas of the business -- that made the biggest impact, and in some instances is doubling. The ability to respond to service requests within 60 minutes is a 2x jump to those that have the insight and share those insights through a process."

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