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Marketing leaders, it’s time to go all-in on social media customer care – here’s why

As social media evolves from an “amplification” touchpoint to the preferred destination for customers seeking support, marketing leaders will be forced to play a larger role in their brand’s customer service strategies, says Scott Morris (CMO, Sprout Social).

Having spent more than 25 years in marketing roles, I have witnessed first-hand how essential service is to the customer experience. How a brand treats its current and future customers has an outsized impact on loyalty and revenue. 

So why do so many marketing leaders continue to think of customer care as something that is “another department’s problem?” 

As social media — a channel typically owned by marketing — evolves from an “amplification” touchpoint to the preferred destination for customers seeking support, marketing leaders will be forced to play a larger role in their brand’s customer service strategies. Social media has already become the nexus of brand and consumer relationships. It’s inevitable that social customer care will become a bigger piece of the brand experience. 

Brands that answer this call with faster, personalized care will outshine the competition and strengthen their organizations for years to come. 

The new rules of engagement

Businesses have traditionally provided customer service on their terms. We all know the feeling of being stuck on hold as the thousandth person in the queue. Or repeating your situation to multiple service reps. Outdated, inefficient means of communication became the norm for customers.

This approach isn’t tolerated anymore. According to The Sprout Social Index™, 76% of consumers notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support on social, and an additional 76% value how quickly a brand can respond to their needs. 

Consumers are still price sensitive, audience demographics are in flux and customer needs are evolving quickly. One bad experience can cost you a customer for life. And when it happens on a public forum like social media, the outcome can be catastrophic.

(It’s a fun time to be a marketer, right?)

But the right social customer service interactions can help your customers love you even more. They touch everyone from people who have never heard of your brand or bought from you, to existing customers and brand advocates. When marketing leaders make customer care a priority in the customer journey, everybody wins. 

Here’s what that looks like in practice:

Make everyone accountable for building a world-class brand

The Sprout Social Index™ revealed that 8% of service teams and 16% of marketing teams exclusively own social media customer care. Everyone else was somewhere in the middle. Most brands agree both teams must work in harmony to deliver best-in-class service.

When social teams alone manage social care, it can take several hours (or even days) for customers to be passed to the right service rep or get their questions answered. And when the service team is responsible for all social customer care, they can miss opportunities for positive engagement (in favor of dealing with complaints and escalations) and fail to pass on relevant customer insights.

Ideally, marketing and service teams should work as partners. Service agents should be empowered to jump in immediately to resolve customer complaints. Social marketers should have the time to focus on crafting content, community engagement and interpreting customer data from service team interactions to make better decisions. 

Advocate for resources that simplify collaboration

Effective partnership between marketing and service teams starts with having the right tools. One-off internal DMs, long email chains and incompatible tech stand in the way of delivering superior care.  

According to Q3 2023 Sprout Social Pulse Survey data, only 32% of customer care professionals are very confident in their team’s ability to handle a sudden influx of customer inquiries on social. If you’re a leader responsible for brand-building, alarm bells should be ringing.  

Social is where care and marketing work most closely, and it’s a direct portal to understanding your brand, audience and industry. Customer intelligence is money, and when departments use piecemeal tech you’re leaving that money on the table. 

Marketing leaders need to do more than master the handoff of tasks and tickets between their teams. They need to invest in tools that increase productivity and surface insights that shift brand perception.

Embrace customer care as part of your content strategy

Consumers think the most memorable thing brands can do on social is respond to them, according to our Index research. One-on-one engagement matters more than publishing volume and jumping on trends. Savvy brands prioritize responding to customers and use those interactions to amplify their brand values. Customer care and community engagement tactics can reinforce your content strategy rather than detract from it. 

Widely beloved brands run a master class in this. Take Patagonia, the outdoor retailer known for its authenticity and community. Just like the helpfulness they’re known for in-store, the company provides stellar care on social. The people behind their customer care team are quick to jump in with outdoor expertise and information about their repair program and return policy. 

Or pet product company Chewy: The brand is known for going above and beyond for their customers (and their pets), even when issues seem out of their control. On social, they refer to all of their customers’ pets by name—a level of personalization that requires not only integrating your teams, but also your social data and CRM software.

Customer care can be your differentiator 

Marketing leaders can’t let departmental silos and the wrong tech define their brands’ customer experience. By uniting marketing and customer service teams in unprecedented ways, you can transform customer care into a function that sets your brand apart.

By Scott Morris, CMO at Sprout Social 

Originally Appeared Here

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