Social media changes everything. Marketing, sales, customer service, they’re no longer departments, engagement is now a way of business.

As the impact of social spreads through organizations, questions arise about the role social ultimately plays in customer service and overall customer experiences. For the past three years, good friend Brent Learyand the folks at Social Media Today have produced The Social Customer Engagement Index. It examines how companies are using social tools for customer service and, more importantly, how customers are responding.

What’s fascinating is that even today, I’m still humbled by how far we’ve come and also how far we need to go. At a high level, the Index uncovered that while intentions to improve customer engagement and relationships via social run high among executives, the reality is that businesses aren’t putting their investments where their aspirations are. The challenge for change agents and internal champions is about moving businesses from #lipservice to #customerservice.

SAP, Social Media Today, and the team at Pivot collaborated on a new infographic to visualize the latest index. Let’s take a look…

Engagement Ideals vs. Market Reality

The study found that 71% of businesses claim to use social media for customer service and 87.5% have realized a positive impact. Looking at these numbers would almost be enough to convince executives that they’re on the right path. But as customers become increasingly connected, the investments that businesses make, or the lack there of, in social customer service, are not keeping up with customer expectations.

Only a small percentage of all businesses surveyed have put their money where there intentions are with 7% investing over a quarter of a million dollars and 5% investing between $100,000 – $250,000.

 

Of all social service cases, most businesses in the survey (41.2%) handle just under 5% of what transpires in the social egosystem. And, only 17.5% handle 25% of the issues that surface is social networks. If you think about it, that’s a tremendous opportunity to shift negative experiences into positive outcomes. Peer-to-peer influence, not to mention social proof, sways impressions and decisions in either direction. As a business, making an investment in social customer service not only improves sentiment, but also how people perceive your brand. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos famously said, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Businesses do believe that social media and customer service is becoming increasingly integrated. In 2012, 45% of businesses compared to 36% in 2011 are setting out to align resources.

However, almost 40% address social issues on an ad-hoc basis without the support of governance or a formal process. And, only 16% actually review social profiles before engagement.

In social media, the customer is always right…right now. Certainly social media response times are critical in the moment. Of those businesses that participated in the study, 36% state that response times are as fast as an hour or less. Another 32.5% assert that a response will occur in less than four hours and 26% will try to get back to customers within a day.

If we look at the reasons why engagement is hampered however, some very interesting, and dare we say inefficient, reasons emerge.

41% need to find the answer.

34% need guidance on how best to answer a question or resolve a problem.

27% need to find the appropriate message to answer.

Becoming a social business isn’t dependent on whether or not some of your team uses social networks for marketing, sales, or service here and there. A social business is a way of business. It’s a philosophy. As such, the move toward customer-centricity is takes more than good intentions. It takes a culture of customer-centricity rooted in vision, employee empowerment, social technology, company-wide integration, and supporting processes.

It takes a pivot from #lipservice to #customer service.

The full Social Customer Engagement Index will be released by SAP at The Pivot Conference. Reserve a copy today.

Taking place on October 15th and 16th in NY, the Pivot Conference will sell out.

Use code SolisVIP to save 30%.

See you there!