How Ready Indian Brands Are For Social Customer Service

In his last article, Deep Sherchan, CMO at Simplify360 discusses the readiness of Indian brands for social customer service and what's stopping them

Editor’s Note: Deep Sherchan, guest editor at LI for the month of April writes about how call centers are evolving in the social media age and how they can adapt to Social CRM. You can follow Deep on Twitter – @bexdeep (Click here to follow his articles).

This is my last article for the ongoing ‘one article per week’ series with Lighthouse Insights. When Prasant approached me for the series, I wasn’t so sure as to how much value I would be able to add to the already crowded content around social media and customer experience. Hence without sounding rhetorical, I decided to represent the other side of the story – the dark side of the moon. In my last 3 articles, I have portrayed customer service as the main protagonist of this new age business world, where customer is the King or you could say Queen. In this one, I will try to address key areas where Indian organizations are lacking behind or are failing to become ‘social customer service’ ready.

Deep SherchanI have tried to highlight the challenges and growing myths around the social customer service. In hindsight, everything seems logical - customers are complaining on social media, so brand needs to address their grievances in real-time and engage with them – but it is not so simple and straightforward.

Many brands are still not convinced that social customer service is vital, and only a handful of brands are taking it seriously. Do not hate brands for being dumb because they aren’t. They have genuine reservations around the use of social media for customer service. It all trickles down to amount of resources and impact social customer service can have on their business.

For example, there are brands that hardly receive 2/3 complaints per month on social media. How do you show the impact of the program for them? The other problem brands are facing is from people who go on ranting about them without cooperating with their social media team to resolve the case. Furthermore, there are people who simply like to complain about the brand without having any authentic reason. These kinds of behavior from customers have put off brands that are seriously trying to serve their customers on social media.

Besides all the apprehensions, are Indian brands ready to invest in social customer service? They certainly have capital and priority to invest on social customer service, but the bridge that can help take them to the other side is missing. The market is waiting for someone to build the bridge, however everyone seems to be struggling. There are multiple technology and service providers that promise to solve the business problems but there is a huge disconnect between them. The main missing link is the cohesiveness of these services and technologies.

Traditionally the various departments in organizations run in silos connected through single chain of command from CEO to other heads of the business units. However, social media has disrupted that chain and brought every one into one place. Today social media has direct impact on every business unit – marketing, sales, product, operation, human resources etc.

The main question that everyone is asking is – how are they going to integrate everything into one place? It is not just about answering queries on social media and resolving the case, it is more about how social customer service fits into the larger picture of the organization and how can it be streamlined. Currently, this is where every brand is confused and is still experimenting. As a result, social customer service is like a hot potato passed on from one business unit to another and no one has any clear idea when this passing game is going to end.

Unlike chat support or email support, social customer service is not a simple respond and close scenario because it has a larger influence on customers. It is driving a larger part of the business through its impact on brand. Not to mention its huge impact on marketing and branding. This is one of the primary reasons that brands are not able to make a quick decision because every action on social media has ripple effects on the entire business.

As a result, I see many brands delaying their actions until they are certain about their entire goal plan. However, due to lack of industry standards the creation of goal plan itself is difficult to create. More importantly not many departments are ready to take responsibilities of social customer service. You will observe that almost all brands are active on social media with their promotion and content marketing, but not all take responsibilities of resolving customer’s grievances. On the contrary, some brands even delete or block their channel for customer interactions.

Therefore, only in organizations, where some departments are actively pushing social customer service, we get to experience their effort on social media. It might be in terms of speedy response, or quick resolution of the case. This ultimately is helping them create better branding and customer engagement.

How can we bring more organizations to be social customer service ready? I would say first is educating them on the bigger picture of social customer service, and secondly prioritizing the need of collaboration from various departments. In every organization that I have interacted, the organization that has both elements right are the ones making quicker decisions. They are the ones implementing resources and technologies with decisive plan.

Some are even taking extreme steps such as changing the entire approach towards their organization’s working structure – by putting social media at the center of their thought process. These are the types of organizations who will be winning in the future and not the ones where social customer service is only a simple respond and close case.

I hope that some of these organizations that are pushing social customer service to their extreme will help build a model that every other organization can emulate. It is only then, we will have organizations ready to adopt social customer service efficiently.