By - October 14th, 2014

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Disclaimer: I helped write the guide and I also work for Conversocial. So for these reasons I am obviously bias in my opinion toward what I think is an industry leading report. But trust me, as anyone who works in content marketing will testify, when you spend weeks writing a piece the last thing you want to do is revisit it. However, last night that is exactly what I decided to do. 

I accept there's a certain irony in writing a definitive guide to something as fast-evolving as social customer service. But from building the guide from the ground up our aim was to provide you with everything you need to develop a social customer service strategy for the future.

Here are my five top takeaways from the report—where I try to look a little more deeply at the underlying themes:

1. Accept that social customer service is broader than just marketing

The majority of companies are still guilty of seeing social customer service as an offshoot of their marketing activity.

However, this opinion is changing - although not as fast as your customers’ expectations for great customer service over social media. Both Marketing and Customer Service have differing skill sets that are valuable but, for an efficient social customer service strategy, the customer service team must have ownership.

2. Replying to social media posts is no longer just a job for your junior team

Building a successful, socially-savvy customer service team presents a number of unique challenges, as the public nature of social media leaves little room for error.

So why would you give such a highly visible (and potentially high risk), job to undertrained staff? To be successful at social customer service you must take it seriously, allocating sufficient resources to get the job done.

3. Listen to what is being said, don't just dictate the conversation

Social customer service comes into its own when meaningful, two-way dialogue takes place between companies and customers.

What your customers have to say online about you (the good, the bad and the ugly) delivers a wealth of information that gives real insight into your business operations.

For example, Costa Coffee, a Conversocial client, was able to track how many comments on social media related to gluten free products and record conversation sentiment. This eventually allowed the social team to build a business case on the need for their outlets to include a gluten free alternative (full case study here).

Companies must use this information, as it will not only help them shape product offerings, but also stand out from competitors.

4. Social customer service is like any other customer service channel-it is measurable!

In the past, social customer service was new and relatively unknown. However, this mindset has changed and it is now essential for social customer service to be taken seriously. Therefore you must report on it seriously.

Companies that are unable to understand and quantify the impact of their social customer service operations risk budget constraints and lack of C-level buy-in. Successful companies have a full set of analytics and success KPIs in place, making comparisons to traditional customer service metrics on performance.

5. The future is the unknown…

The nature of social customer service means it is constantly changing. The one thing we can bank on is that social data, and the importance of real social identities that are interlocked with traditional CRM systems, are going to be more and more common.

Companies have spoken about the ‘holy grail’ of creating a 360 view of the customer for a while.

The Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service is designed to help you not only face these changes head on, but deliver social customer service as a standardized, scalable and ROI-positive operation.

In order to keep pace with changes in the industry, we decided to make the Definitive Guide to Social Customer Service a living, breathing document available online as content you can link and share, rather than just another eBook available for download (though you can still download an eBook of the guide if you prefer!). For your full eBook version head here.

Anyway, rant over—hopefully you found it informative and now want to read the full 44 pages...if you decide to, I hope you get as much joy from it as me and the Conversocial marketing team did here in writing it!

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