Social business process: tying your teams together

When reading and hearing about social business, what is your image of what its ‘ambassadors’ want? My impression is that they want change before anything else. Unfortunately, ‘tearing down silos’ in large organizations like many innovative minds want isn’t popular with the people who will be doing the answering if things go wrong.

I agree with the ambassadors’ plea to get a good number of people involved in social media for business – and train them properly: in possibilities AND in risks. But how do you avoid getting yourself into a complete mess?

The case for a unified social media approach

I’ve talked before about the way marketing may well be up to the ‘social challenge’ but that it doesn’t help much if your customers get stuck elsewhere in your organization. Getting one team onto a level that shouts ‘social business!’ and neglecting the others can be worse than… Well I might say “doing nothing” but let’s settle for …starting quietly and watching what happens. Let me give you an example.

Social Business Process

Social business process: where do you lead your customer?

Andrew Grill recently had a dismal experience in the world of ‘4G’. In a post this week he gave the issue some thought in terms of social business. He refers to his earlier post “Mind the social media gap” in which Dave Evans tells us:

“Marketing sells the expectation, marketing creates demand, … Operations delivers.”

The social media gap is the gap between expectation and delivery. Any kind of gap between the two drives conversation. The good part is it works whenever you do better than you promised (unless you promised way too little). But the reverse is also true.

In the case Andrew describes, marketing was clearly so far ahead of the game in terms of social media that this led him to expect a great (social customer) experience on every level. But operations wasn’t half ‘social’ enough. Andrew lists all the things that went wrong in the ‘support’ phase, thus giving an excellent to-do for anyone who seriously wants to go social.*

It might have been less of a problem if Andrew had not been a social media ‘native’, or if support had been able to get hold of someone who could actually manage the support process via social media. The way things went, the whole company looked bad.

The conclusion has got to be that you can’t limit yourself to training just the marketing team.

Tying teams together: sales to support

Perhaps you don’t get many questions via social media right now, at least from customer services.** What you could do to get a clear picture of customer feedback is contact a few people from different teams:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • After sales
  • Customer service

Now I won’t go all ‘agile business’ on you – classic Prince II project management tells you to “manage transitions”. It’s your job to find out where valuable customer information falls into the cracks of your organization, and then seal the cracks. If the only viable way to seal the cracks is to redesign the whole process, fine, that’s your next step.

First you can check:

  1. If marketing or sales are actually taking care of part of customer feedback via social media – because they have established a presence there.
  2. Whether all feedback is addressed efficiently.
  3. If anything is referred from one team to the other.

The least you can expect is to get some idea of what everyone is doing, and whether or not different parts of your organization are showing the same ‘face’ to your customers.

Extending the ol’ sales funnel

Information from any customer-focused team should be accessible both ways: up and down the customer process. The ‘normal’ way would be for customers to get ‘handed down’ the process from marketing through sales to after sales. In case of issues, customers are then handed into the care of customer service.

But anything which comes in after sales should be added to the existing customer account, and any kind of feedback – positive or negative – on the sales process should travel back up and get serious attention and follow-up. Don’t let complaints just sit in your customer database – or worse, a separate customer service database. Check a number of complaints for clues that point toward underlying issues, and address those.

Working your way toward a social business process

What I would like you to consider is this:

  1. give teams a reason for working together,
  2. add a structure like regular meetings and calls to exchange information.
  3. enhance a starting cross-teams trend by providing any common support (unit) you can think of.

Even if you have a clear picture of where you want to go, you need to look for transitional stages that ‘work’ every step of the way.

One last addition: today’s interview with Frank Eliason of Citibank reminds us that customers don’t want “social services” – they want you to get things right the first time. If your cross-team session hints at problems, use that knowledge to make sure no customer will ever need your customer services.

Literature:

* Andrew Grill, Had EE Been a Social Business They Might Have Survived Launch Issues – Socialmediatoday, November 5.

** EMarketer, Social is still a small part of customer services. November 7

Further reading:

  • Amanda Nelson, 60 smart social media marketing tips, Radian6/Salesforce Marketing Cloud Blog, November 6. Amanda serves up a long list devided into aspects of social media marketing you need if you’re to call yourself a social business. One aspect is Workflow and Automation, where you’ll find some of the things I mention in this post.
  • In case you are a Microsoft/Yammer user: Yammer Announces Deeper Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration – Microsoft.com, October 29.

Feel free to share your thoughts about what a social business process could look like in your organization!

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