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Best Practices for Social Support

Would you like to know what works best when you finally decide to use social channels to improve your customer service? Perhaps it is too early to say and certainties are hard to find at this stage but some best practices are starting to emerge at the benefit of those companies that have the wisdom to listen.

Some very meaningful indications have been recently shared in The Social Customer Index put together by Brent Leary , one of the world’s leading experts in the Social CRM field, even more when you are turning your attention to SMEs. The research has been conducted in June on the online community associated to The Social Customer website as part of a series of surveys that will be repeated every quarter in order to better understand the most effective strategies to extend the CRM leveraging the new opportunities offered by the web.

The sample of 118 respondents, although not statistically significant, included both small and large companies in a variety of sectors and geographies and provided a number of relevant trends to watch:

  • In general, social networks facilitate the achievement of customer service. Going directly to the meat: 60% of the answers show a positive impact, 35% no noteworthy result and only 5% a negative one

  • Results are correlated to the maturity of the initiative. As expected, the majority of firms in the sample began to support its customers through Web 2.0 just one year ago. However there is a correlation between the maturity of the project and the impact of social media in achieving support objectives. If only 18% of the total sample had already launched the initiative two years, between those who see positive or very positive outcomes that level of maturity jumps respectively to the 53% and the 64% of the cases.

  • You need support specialists to succeed. 62% of companies have 1-5 people dedicated to Social Support, while 17% do not have any resource allocated to the project. If we limit ourselves to those who have seen a positive or very positive impact, however, the number of companies without any dedicated resource goes down to 4%. On the contrary that same number rises to 31% for those firms not able to see any benefit from the introduction of social media.

  • Integration with traditional processes pay. Integration with existing support mechanisms is not so much a prerequisite at this phase but more a goal yet to be achieved in many projects. Despite such understandable difficulties, the study also sees a correlation between integration and results. If 31% of the participants have already completed a total integration with support processes, the same percentage rises to 40% and 48% in those who reported positive or very positive while it gets down to 19% for those who did not notice any meaningful result from social media. In a predictable way, the integration seems also more frequent while the initiative matures.

  • The results also depend on the level of interaction with the customer.If in most cases support through social channels still covers a small percentage of the total number of requests received, 40% and 60% respectively of those who have found positive or very positive impact is already handling more than 6% of requests within the community, compared to 5% for those who have not seen any result from social support.

  • The management makes a difference, but companies are still preparing themselves to leverage Social Support by defining appropriate metrics and trying to understand what customers really expect from this new type of interaction. Recognition by the management, however, is the only dimension correlated to the outcomes here, given that the average buy-in is mentioned as an obstacle in 31% of the cases, compared with 12% of those who have seen very positive results and 45% for those not able to see any benefit at all .

  • Facebook and Twitter are chosen by the most, but with different results. If Facebook and Twitter are quite always the environments preferred by companies in the sample (with a preference of the former over the latter), among those who have achieved very positive results, 72% chose Twitter while only 16% went for Facebook. In reality these last numbers seem to depend at some extent on the different ways large and small companies evaluate the outcomes of Social Support projects and on the preference of the latter to Facebook compared to Twitter. Among those with positive returns, however, is quite frequent the joint use of both Facebook and Twitter.

  • You do not need much money. The amount of investment does not seem to have any significant effect on the outcome achieved with most of the participants who spent less than $ 5oK. The statement does not change even considering only those who have expressed very positive returns


Trying to summarize some of the data, although still at the beginning with the Social Support (at least in this more structured way in respect to the free use of forums some time ago) some emerging best practices should not be underestimated.

The good news is that at such an initial stage with Social Support and Social CRM, this approach means an opportunity for quite every firm, with a low investment and a real potential to improve customers satisfaction.

The participation of management, integration processes, the need for dedicated resources, the results that come with time and frequency of interaction anyway position Social Support as a strategic project, capable of improving the relationship with the client and giving new ideas for product/service, but only if framed as a path of change in the medium to long term.

To be successful it is certainly appriopriate to choose the correct channel as many agency suggest but it is even more central to involve the entire ecosystem (organization, customers, partners) in a holistic strategy with the right effort and patience.

How much do you agree with these indications?

This post is also available in: Italian

Emanuele Quintarelli

Entrepreneur and Org Emergineer at Cocoon Projects | Associate Partner at Peoplerise | LSP and Holacracy Facilitator