British businesses admit that they don't engage customers with social media

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A new survey from Aspect has found that a minority of UK businesses (40 per cent) claims to use social media as a two-way conversational tool for customer engagement, instead admitting that networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn are prioritised as a mass broadcast tool.

Speaking to 100 business and IT professionals*, the study from customer contact and workforce optimisation technology provider Aspect, aimed to find out how respondents saw the position of social media within their organisation, how it is or will be used, and how closely it is integrated with other forms of communication with customers and prospects. Currently, almost three quarters of businesses (72 per cent) say that they use social media within their organisation, with a further 8 per cent implementing it over the next 12 months and an additional 16 per cent seriously considering using it in the long-term.

"The customer conversation is changing; no more are we restricted to using the telephone when we speak with companies we buy from," commented Mark King, Senior VP Europe and Africa at Aspect. "Although it is fair to say that most organisations now recognise that being present on the most popular social media networks is a necessity, as that is where their customers are, it should be much more than just another way of talking about how great your brand is and not developing that conversation. Business leaders just don't know where it sits in the organisation, who within the business should own it, and the ever-increasing importance of harnessing the unstructured content derived from that conversation."

More than 6 in 10 businesses (62 per cent) say that social media does or will have some form of integration with other business processes and communication channels. Respondents were closely divided when asked whether this was a purely manually-driven integration on a strategic level or full technical integration with 33 per cent and 29 per cent respectively stating this. 28 per cent said that social media is not or will not be integrated at all, and stood alone within the business.

King added: "60 per cent of those we asked prioritised pushing out messages and company updates as the primary function of social media, and 32 per cent admit that they do take customer queries, but it is not a one way channel. With 52 per cent of professionals admitting that they see social media as surpassing the telephone as the main method of customer engagement by 2020, there is this disconnect that needs to be addressed by shifting from broadcast to a dialogue. This will only be achieved by aligning social media with existing metrics and processes proven to work in the contact centre infrastructure in terms of business culture, strategy and technical integration."

In terms of ownership, 40 per cent of respondents feel that in the main, responsibility for social media within the organisation lay with the marketing department, but over a quarter (26 per cent) believe that this was the job of senior management. 20 per cent say that social media is, or will be, owned by the contact centre. Only 2 per cent stated that social media was the responsibility of everyone within the organisation.

*Survey conducted in March 2013 of 100 business and IT decision makers by Aspect Software

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