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The traditional structure of a business designates separate teams for separate operations. There might have been some basic communication between divisions, but for the most part, departments worked individually. However, advances in technology have led to changes in that standard company model. It’s becoming more and more common for departments to have large amounts of cooperation and crossover.

Social media is one of the forces changing businesses, and one of its effects is a tight integration with the world of customer service. When you think about the ways customers are using social media to speak to brands, this overlap makes a lot of sense. Here are three reasons why the disciplines of social media and customer service have developed such a close relationship, and why you’ll want to make sure your company fosters that bond.

1. Customers Don’t See A Difference

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Before social media came on the scene, a business would rely on communication by email, phone, or mail. These channels could be easily divided by department, with separate hotlines or addresses available to customers for reaching the appropriate service teams.

Even though Facebook and Twitter allow the creation of multiple accounts for multiple departments, that approach doesn’t necessarily suit how people interact with businesses on social. Most commonly, you’ll find your customers following the main account for your business but not seeking out the more specialized accounts. That’s probably because even though interacting with companies on social is becoming more and more common, the thrust is still on personal interactions. So you can expect to see service questions being asked on your Wall or complaints voiced to your main Twitter handle.

2. Access 24/7

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Older forms of customer support communication most commonly involved limited hours of availability. An unhappy client could probably only reach a business during office hours, which could make it hard to resolve issues unrelated to work. Customers innately knew that calling a helpline at 2 a.m. would rarely get you in touch with another human being.

While many smaller businesses still adhere to the traditional office hours for social media activity, larger companies with available resources can use social to offer round-the-clock support. They can have experts on hand at all hours to respond to urgent queries sent on any channel, including the social media ones.

3. Service Is Part of the Bigger Conversation

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Social media is where people go to have conversations with their friends and families. Those discussions often include complaints or victories related to customer service. Whether the conversation is positive or negative about your business, these social chats are an opportunity for a brand to create or maintain a positive impression.

Reaching out to a customer, either to thank them for a compliment or to step in and fix a problem, will help your business. When your social media team takes the first step to engage customers in a conversation, your company’s customer service team gets a leg up. The actions of one department can have a big influence on a client’s opinions of the other.

Adopting the Trend

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Due to this entwining of two previously separate company divisions, it’s important for businesses to be prepared for handling customer service on social. Make sure that employees for your support and social media teams have a clear chain of communication. Both departments should know who will handle different types of customer concerns, who needs to be informed, and how to create tickets.

Check in with members of both departments to create a best practice that will fit the way your personnel do their jobs. Make sure everybody is fully trained on those procedures, and be prepared to tweak your processes if needed.

When the two departments can collaborate with ease, you’ll have happier customers. Being able to address customers’ problems on the channels that work best for them will bolster your reputation as a good brand, especially when you can resolve any issues in a timely fashion.

Social media is just one facet of how new technologies are allowing companies to have a more holistic approach to business structure. It may be beneficial for not just your customer service team, but also you sales reps, your marketing experts, and your executives to have some degree of social media savvy. It’s also easier than ever for these different professionals to collaborate and communicate thanks to new applications and gadget breakthroughs. Companies that are able and willing to wisely adopt new ideas are more likely to reap the rewards of what technology can offer the business world.

[Image credits: Craig Cloutier, Gerlos, Jef Fisher, David R. Tribble, Victor1558]