Companies are learning that today customer service is a big part of effective marketing strategy. The concept that customers decide how, when and where they interact with a company could be an opportunity but for many companies it is challenging and stretches systems and processes. At least part of that challenge comes from the proliferation of communication / interaction channels and methods. Current customer service systems, for the most part, were deigned to interact in a few specific ways including voice, online chat, email and web forms, all communication channels that the company can control. More people are turning to trust filtered online sources that are outside of the companies control though. Networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest offer relationship based, trusted sources for information and assistance. Rather than researching products on brand controlled web sites, prospects as for recommendations on social networks and read reviews on commerce sites and blogs. If there are problems with items purchased they ask for help on those same sites and complain on all sorts of public forums from Twitter to YouTube.

So what's a company to do? It's clear that just throwing employees at the problem is not a scalable solution. The old systems and process of react and respond now have to be accompanied by sense and respond based systems. It's questionable whether current systems and processes alone can be stretched to handle the new channels and the new types of interaction. Some customer service systems are now integrated to various consumer social networks, which is at least part of the solution, but many companies are finding that they need more specialized functionality.

There are a few systems that are trying to address this issue, social customer support, and recently I took a look at one of them, Social Dynamx. Social Dynamx is designed to manage all of a companies' social customer support interactions and then integrate into the overall IT infrastructure including existing CRM/customer support system, knowledge base, social media monitoring tool, etc. The software is cloud based and has a role based user interface that has 3 views, agent, supervisor and manager. The compelling part of the solution for me though, is in the systems ability to filter out noise, something that is a serious problem in delivering social customer support, and surfacing real issues. The algorithms are designed to score incoming posts in real time based on relevance and ability to take action, then route automatically to the most qualified agent based on the type of action required. The system has machine learning capabilities built in, so gets "smarter" with use as well.

Any system that is used to manage social customer support must be scalable and be "enterprise ready". Social Dynamx has complete enterprise workflow and embedded analytics to help monitor key metrics and provide essential reports. Social customer support is more than surfacing issues and taking action though, it is also about having conversations with customers. Social Dynamx provides tools to help facilitate the conversation including threading of conversations and the capability to de-dupe and/or unify threads to assist agents in scaling conversations while keeping up their "end". 

Social Dynamx has a lot of potential in my opinion, particularly around the ability to scale through intelligent filtering and machine learning. Companies need to find ways to scale social interaction in customer support, customers are insisting on it and support has become a key component of an overall marketing strategy. The conversations may be happening on consumer social network but the tools for business need to scale and provide enterprise class capabilities.