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Customer service and social CRM: Finding the common points

Last updated May 21, 2010

Last year Gartner published their Predicts 2010 report, part of which included a paper about the intersect between customer service and Social CRM. The gist of the report is that web based customer service tools will become more prevalent and that these tools will form more of a connection point between business’ internal processes and external-facing customer service.

The report recomends that customer service teams have to stop considering themselves siloed within the organization – rather they need to be working within social media tools (be they Facebook, Twitter or whatever) to reach, and more importantly react, to the voice of the customer.

The report identifies four critical issues for customer services organization:

  1. Social CRM (in essence a move away from software that enables employees to manage the customer relationship, and towards software that enables the end user to ask question and find answers)
  2. The importance of supporting customers while they are on social networking sites not under the organization’s control
  3. The increasing erosion of barriers to customer self service, but with corresponding high demands for convenience, security and simplicity
  4. The benefits to be gained by using a modern support application

I’d strongly agree with the points that Gartner raises and I get the distinct impression that traditional support desk software today fails to enable the changes that will solve these problems. Traditional software is inflexible and is primarily about data aggregation and predefined (and sadly inflexible) processes.

I believe the future lies in giving business the ability to change and adapt their business rules quickly and at will. In the context of what we’re talking about at Zengage, this is in order to provide real-time, current and contextual guidance to the support agent and thus the customer. At the same time support desks need to refocus based on the dual trends of a move to self-service and an increasing consumer preference for self-service.

By definition web applications have the ability to aggregate information and “learn” from ongoing interactions – in the support desk setting this enables the software to support appropriate decision making based on the context of the interaction.

It’s a dual approach that drives both internal efficiencies and better service externally. By building a knowledge base that learns from ongoiing interactions, by providing agents real time, contextual support and by enabling customers to find their own solutions where practical – modern solutions are supporting the support desk to support the customers.