A few weeks ago we invited members of TheSocialCustomer.com community to participate in a short survey to help us better understand how your companies were using social technologies to support their customers.  We also partnered with The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) to invite their global membership of customer care experts to participate as well.  And thanks to the members of both communities, we had 118 people in less than a week take the survey.

The full results of the survey will be available shortly in a whitepaper we are putting together (you can pre-register for it here).  In the meantime, I'd like to share a few key pieces of information that I found interesting. 

The Very Big and the Very Small

Seventy-six percent of the respondents came from companies employing greater than one thousand employees (46%), or fewer than fifty employees (30%).  This will make it interesting to compare and contrast philosophies and approaches big companies and small companies are taking with respect to integrating social media into customer service. 

For example, twenty-four percent of employees from large enterprises said their companies have already fully integrated social media/networks into their customer service processes.  This compares with forty-three percent of the small business respondents who say they've already integrated “social” into customer service processes.  That's a sizeable difference which may be due to more complex processes and integration needs for the large enterprises, or possibly points to a difference in defining what “fully integrated” means to large and small organizations.

Big Spenders

 While fifty-five percent of respondents from companies with over one thousand employees spent less than $50,000 on their social initiatives, eighteen percent did spend over $100,000.  And of that number spending over $100,000, half of them are spending over $250,000 — or 9% of the total respondents from large enterprises.  Surprisingly, there are even two companies with less than fifty employees who have spent greater than $250,000, with another one of them spending over $100,000.

Intent to Integrate Social into Customer Service

As mentioned above, twenty-four percent of respondents from enterprises with over one thousand employees said their companies have already fully integrated “social” into customer service processes.  Thirty-nine percent of those who are not fully integrated say they will be within a year, while twenty-nine percent say their companies have no plans to do so.

Toughest Challenges

Companies with over one thousand employees cited three main challenges to engaging customers on social networks.  Getting management buy in was chosen by forty percent of those respondents.  But the two answers selected most were determining appropriate key performance indicators/metrics (51%) and understanding customer expectations (49%).  And while understanding customer expectations was the most cited challenge at companies with fewer than fifty employees at 60%, developing key performance indicators and metrics fell way down in importance to 15%.

More to Come

The above is just a portion of the findings from the survey.  The whitepaper on the survey results will take a more detailed look, providing even more insight into how companies are adopting and using social tools to better serve and support customers.  And while this initial survey is not a scientific exercise, we do think the information will help our community gain a better understanding of how their peers are approaching the challenges involved with serving socially-empowered customers.  With 87% of those from the larger enterprises (over 1,000 employees) identifying themselves as managers and directors, we think that can provide a great deal of information.  We hope this will in turn help community members improve their chances to successfully integrate social tools and methodologies into their company's customer service processes. 

We feel by doing this kind of survey on a quarterly basis we can provide ongoing knowledge and insight to the community.  Thanks to all who participated in the inaugural survey.  And a big thank you also goes to the great folks at SOCAP for their participation and assistance in helping us get this off the ground. 

We encourage you to pre-register for the whitepaper now, and we'll send you an email with a link to the finished research as soon as it becomes available.