Businesses in the U.S. and the U.K. are embracing the use of Twitter and Facebook – particularly for customer service – but find that measuring success is a challenge.

Sword Ciboodle, a global provider of customer solutions, and customer experience advisory thinkJar, released the results of a research survey targeting US and UK companies with medium- to large-sized contact centers on their use of social media specifically for customer service.

More than half of companies using Facebook, Twitter

The analysis covers topics such as the longevity and maturity of the social customer service practice, the integration of social channels with traditional channels, and the decision and selection criteria used to determine social customer service programs.

More than half of the companies surveyed are using Twitter (59 percent) and Facebook (60 percent) with 85 percent of those using one using both.

While social channels are widely used, participants showed that justification and validation of social customer service is proving to be a challenge.

Those findings jibe with what digital marketing experts who attend TechMedia’s events have been telling me: customer service is the number one business use for Twitter and Facebook, but determining ROI can be difficult.

Differences in how social channels are used, and factors such as an organization’s size, industry and geography  play an important role. Companies are wrestling with integration of data, as well as finding the right balance between social customer service and more “traditional” channels, the survey suggests.

Size matters. For example, 40 percent of respondents in companies with 1000 or more contact center agents say that their social customer service initiatives have been in place for at least two years.

In contrast, 53 percent of companies with smaller contact centers say that current programs were implemented within the past year to two years.

The reasons behind the move of all companies, regardless of size, to social customer service is customer driven, with 56 percent of respondents implementing social customer service due to customer request, compared with 40 percent that put the programs in place to keep up with competitors.

“What’s important for every organization to realize is, while social channels are constantly evolving, they are not new anymore,” said Mitch Lieberman, vice president of Market Strategy at Sword Ciboodle.

“The most successful customer service program will happen for businesses who incorporate social into their overall customer engagement practices, and really keep pace with the way their customers are communicating with them in all areas.”

To download a full copy of the research “We Are Social: The State of Social Customer Service”, which includes full survey research findings and conclusions, visit:

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