I recently came across this study by Aberdeen:


I frequently review materials generated by and for the customer service and support market as I see a big correlation between what we do in the IT service space and endeavors related to the external customer service market. In IT, we commonly focus our support on internal customers (employees, business users, etc.) with ITSM processes, technologies and resources components. Each of these components has a strong relevancy and application to external customer support, the biggest difference being the ‘customer’ requesting support.


What caught my eye in the Aberdeen report was that 70 percent of customer care organizations were currently using social media, or were planning to use social media (Figure 1: Channel Adoption Trends: 2013 Contact Center Optimization: Using Data to Improve Customer Experiences: Aberdeen) as one of their support channels.


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This study focuses on the correlation between marketing efforts and customer service engagements. To be fair this study is not an exact match to our ITSM customer efforts. However, a major point this study brings up is that businesses can no longer hide from bad customer experiences with the emergence of channels like social media and mobile. Organizations need to embrace these technologies and focus on providing services through emerging technologies, whether internal or external focused, or marketing or IT related. Sound familiar?


The conclusion of the Aberdeen study pointed out that the benefits of aligning marketing and customer service lead to an 11+% increase in annual revenue due in part to improved business service levels and associated customer satisfaction rates.


What I found odd, if not alarming, was the percentage difference between customer service and support social activities when compared to IT’s range of social activities as evidenced in the Help Desk Institutes (HDI) published report ‘An In-Depth Look at Multichannel Support’ from January of this year. The HDI reports shows that only a small fraction of technical support centers (roughly 4%) are actively working via social channels to capture tickets (Chart: Percentage of Support Centers Using the Following Channels to Create Tickets).


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Again, there is not an exact match between the Aberdeen and HDI surveys since the surveys ask the question on social channels in a slightly different fashion. Regardless, a gap of over 60% from the external customer service industry to the technical service desk industry should be of concern for those of us in the IT service management industry.


The findings in the Aberdeen report clearly point out that customer care teams, whom are focused on using social media technologies to service clients, had better customer satisfaction rates as well as improved business results, most notably in terms of revenue. Whereas, conclusions drawn from the HDI study show that single channel technology support centers struggle with customer satisfaction (only 17% of customers are ‘very satisfied’).


Across industries the services will be slightly different in nature, but it begs the question as to why there is such a huge difference across external customer service and technical support service when it comes to social listening and engagement. After all, service is service and customer satisfaction is customer satisfaction…..good or bad.


We must ask ourselves: What are external customer service and support centers doing right, and what improvements can IT learn from improving our efforts in social listening?


  • External facing customer service divisions are clearly opening themselves up to customer feedback via social – not just issue creation or complaint tracking, but awareness, engagement and continuous communication. Another Aberdeen study – Voice of the Customer: Empowered Customers Bring a Wealth of Business Insight ( - shows a common source (35%) for customer feedback is via social media.
  • Customers (especially those in the consumer industry) have social tools readily available to them to self-empower with intelligence needed to make educated buying decisions and determine their loyalty to products or services. IT service desk should also promote services, and provide knowledge and awareness of all things IT related via social. Again, it’s not just capturing issues – it’s promoting the service desk through social means.
  • Best in class, socially focused companies have internal communications and meetings focused on the 'social' topic, with all relevant customer facing teams so they can discuss client issues and connect with each other (and use this information to cross-pollinate ideas on engaging clients).
  • Organizations good in social support empower customer facing teams with the necessary tools, incentives and processes in order for them to achieve the organizations service management goals.
  • Companies have developed formal processes to identify the most relevant KPI’s that help them gauge the effectiveness of customer social activities for not just satisfying customers, but for how teams can make aware, identify, promote and engage related services or information.
  • Great brand companies are using social to sell. Similar to how social activities can be leveraged as selling opportunities in the external world, IT can do the same. IT may not necessarily have to ‘sell’ services to the business, but they can ‘promote’ services via social, and at the very least, ‘socially listen’ to services needed by or requested via business.


By addressing user needs and empowering customers with emerging technologies such as social media, service desks of all types can achieve maximum results.


Jeff Moloughney

ITSM Solutions Marketing