support 2.0: listening to social media

Customer support has always been a challenging task for companies, especially when customer volumes and product SKUs increase. As social media becomes increasingly pervasive, how can companies make their support systems more responsive?

Firms including Cisco and Zendesk have developed systems that integrate customer communications functions with social media such as Twitter. Zendesk has a support ticketing system that can turn Twitter posts into support tickets. This integration makes it relatively easy to respond to Twitter posts from customers complaining about a service, while also registering the whole incident in the support system.

Such developments are becoming increasingly relevant as customers choose social media channels to complain about bad experiences with companies. Support desks can no longer expect customers to come directly and privately to them any more, but must monitor Twitter and other social media for information about bad customer experiences.

The new generation of customer support systems feature innovations such as collaborative authoring, in which multiple parties can contribute to a help ticket, which then becomes a searchable part of a database. Support feedback mechanisms are becoming multichannel, and socially enabled, which allows content to be personalized more effectively.

Rather than simply being a means of solving an irritating problem, then, support is becoming a more integrated part of the customer experience. Customers should be able to leave support interactions more satisfied as a result, and this is a key deliverable. Support incidents are pivotal points in the customer relationship, in which individuals can come away from a company feeling looked after, and valued, by their supplier. These incidents are an opportunity to not only recover relationships, but also to enhance them, and perhaps even increase revenues by cross-selling.

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.