By Simon Stackhouse, Business Development Manager at BancTec

In the new age of social media these two previously distinct and separate departments are moving closer together.

The wide scale adoption and focus on social media amongst B2B and B2C organisations has opened up a critical channel for customer communications, yet questions have been raised as to who should manage these conversations. In any business the customer service team is the front line, but marketers require the use of social media as part of their campaigns. Whenever a customer comes into contact with an organisation, the service they receive must be consistent, effective and efficient, but this has been made increasingly difficult by a communication channel that is often split between two departments.

According to Media Bistro, 41 percent of companies have lost customers or had significant damage done to their reputation by negative social media posts. Social media has paved the way for the blending of marketing and customer service departments. The growth in the number of ‘big’ customer databases along with the necessity to provide a personalised service, whether a customer is complaining or purchasing, has married the two departments.

Social Media

The growing number of customers choosing to make complaints via social media, typically controlled by the marketing team, has blurred the lines between marketers and customer service professionals.

Business leaders have therefore started to question how they can adapt their customer service teams to respond to complaints via social media in the same manner as if they came in via email, direct mail or the phone.

We are seeing a growing number of customer service professionals not only dealing with customer comments and complaints, but also managing social media campaigns and creating content. On the other side, an increasing number of marketers are being forced to respond to complaints because they fall under their remit as controllers of the organisation’s social media presence.

For businesses, the problems come when they end up with staff that are ill experienced in marketing or complaints management becoming forced to do this very work. Managing social media is not easy and requires expertise. As any new Twitter user knows, putting all that you want to say into under 140 characters or less is not the easiest and can only be more difficult if staff are trying to follow communications procedures designed for channels such as email or the telephone. Social media seems to have introduced a pattern of blurring these lines between the two departments, impacting other aspects also.

Potential Mergers?

There have been potential mergers on the cards for some organisations, however this again creates issues as some staff will require retraining, and the movement could disrupt business processes. With personalisation becoming more critical to different departments, through sales, marketing and customer service, business units are having to work much closer together. Knowing exactly who customers are, their history with the organisation and any other pertinent information is critical to high levels of service. Strong personalisation will enhance reputation and grow sales. The solution to these issues is therefore a system that multiple parties can work from containing all relevant customer data.

Case Management

A case management workflow system is essential for any organisation to use across the business acting as the bridge between marketers and customer service departments.

Case management means that when a customer contacts an organisation through any channel, not only will the agent know exactly who they are and their history with the business, but this information will be available to a marketer. The benefit of this is that the marketing department will appreciate the need for sensitivity and special treatment for this particular customer.

Additionally, within a business where a marketer manages social media, any complaints through this channel can also be logged within a case management system, meaning when that customer phones in, the agent will be able to see they previously complained via social media, and the nature of the complaint. Large customer facing businesses without a case management system run the risk of falling behind competitors through less than adequate customer service and disparate messaging.

The constantly evolving technology and environment has created a number of potential issues for customer service and marketing professionals alike, and I would expect to see more and more businesses choosing to unite these two in the future. Whatever solution to the problem companies choose to go with, it is really important that all staff can access relevant and real-time customer data. Only this will allow customers needs and complaints to be dealt with the most effectively.