Why social media makes customer service everyone’s responsibility

December 1, 2014, 4:47 PM UTC
SF Mayor Ed Lee Attends Opening Of Cloud Based IT Company In San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 30: People watch as Zendesk works on computers at the new Zendesk office on August 30, 2011 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco mayor Ed Lee officially opened the offices of Zendesk, a provider of cloud-based help desk software, is the first business to open on San Francisco's Central Market district since the adoption of the Central Market and Tenderloin Area payroll tax exclusion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

Zendesk, Lithium Technologies and Conversocial are just three companies building cloud-based software closely associated with social customer service processes.

The people who use this technology often sit outside “traditional” support organizations. At least they have historically. Those lines are blurring, suggesting the need for a more unified approach—at least that’s the argument being made by Salesforce. With a product release last month, the software company is pushing its own next-generation social “listening” software as a unifying layer for marketing, service and sales teams.

“If you get things wrong, customers have more ways than ever to tell everyone they know about it (as well as several thousand people they’ve never met),” said Mike Lazerow, chief strategy officer for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud and co-founder of Buddy Media (bought by Salesforce in 2012 for about $689 million).

Just three years ago, as an example, 45% of all customer inquiries for video game publisher Activision (a Salesforce customer) were handled by a traditional call center. Now, almost 90% are resolved through social or self-service channels, according to Lazerow.

Separate research about this topic conducted by Forrester Consulting shows that the number of people using Twitter for customer service requests doubled to 22% between 2009 to 2012. Obviously not the dominant channel to handle complaints, but one growing very fast.

Lazerow says social interactions should connect employees, no matter their role, which means listening to this activity shouldn’t be a siloed function by some separate group of people. That’s why Salesforce just integrated its Social Studio technology (which combines technology acquired from Radian6 and Buddy Media) into its marketing software cloud. I asked Lazerow via email to outline the benefits of this integration. Here’s his complete response:

Organizations that embrace this approach will win. It’s that simple. Sixty-six percent of marketers say they see lead generation benefits with social media. Customers spend 20% to 40% more with your company, on average, when you respond to their service requests over social media.

When a customer reaches out to an organization, they don’t care which department they are speaking to. They are speaking to your brand, and they want a solution to their problem. The speed of communications has continued to increase and today’s customers expect increasingly quick response times. Social media offers efficient ways to resolve customer issues, if you’re prepared to effectively handle them.

If a customer calls your contact center, they provide your agents with their basic account information. When a customer tweets you a question or posts it to your Facebook page, their name and basic information is already available. Today’s social customer expects you to utilize the wealth of information their social accounts to personalize your customer service process. You need to understand who they are so they don’t have to tell you every time.

This item first appeared in the Nov. 26 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.