January 4th, 2013 by Leonard Klie

DMG Consulting this week put out a first-of-its-kind report that gives concrete guidance, best practices, metrics, and other advice for companies looking to get started on social media customer service or expand their footprint on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“After watching the market for two years, there is finally enough available to identify some best practices from a practical, technological, tactical, and strategic perspective,”  says Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting.

Among them are the following:

DO: Create a presence on social media. You can’t ignore it. It’s not going away. It needs to become a part of every company’s DNA

DO: Involve your service organization. The customer-facing service organization needs to be directly involved. It shouldn’t just be a marketing function.

DO: Measure what you’re doing. Have the appropriate key performance indicators (KPI) in place to let you know how you’re doing.

DO: Provide a response that is consistent with the other channels you offer. You don’t want one channel to eclipse the others that you offer.

DO: Provide a rapid response, and take the conversation off-line when private matters are being discussed or personal information is being exchanged.

DO: Think of social media as part of an entire multichannel strategy.

DO: Provide a one-and-done experience. You want the customer’s first channel to be the only channel he needs.

And now for the things to avoid:

DON’T: You can’t ignore social media. In five years, DMG expects the number of customer service issues raised on social media sites to equal those communicated to a company through the phone.

DON’T: You can’t go into a social media campaign willy-nilly. You need to be very absolute about what you’re trying to do and stick to it.

DON’T: You can’t allow your social media response group to use different strategies. There has to be a consistent approach across all channels.

DON’T: You can’t reward customers for channel surfing–switching channels when they don’t get an answer they like on one channel.

DON’T: You can’t set up a social channel at the expense of all others. Organizations today need to be set up to handle multiple channels, and social has to be one of those channels.

The report also looks at the social media customer service vendor landscape, which unfortunately is very fragmented today, according to the report.

Fluss says companies implementing a social customer service strategy over social media will need to work with at least three vendors—one to find company mentions and filter out the unimportant posts, one to route the posts to the appropriate personnel, and another to respond and track the response. Ideally, a company should also apply performance management, workforce optimization, quality management, and a lot of other tools as well.

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