Making the case for Customer Service through Social Media
Meeting customers where they are is proactive; it involves putting the customer at the centre of everything you do. However, more often than not, not all parts of the company are aligned to be customer-centric.
Your entire company’s mind-set has to shift away from focusing on how quickly you handle service issues. View each customer interaction as a bank deposit into (or withdrawal out of) your most important investments: customer satisfaction, loyalty, and your overall future. It can seem like an uphill battle, but these trends may help you convince your colleagues that it’s the right thing to do.
What is driving this trend towards Social Customer Service Engagement?
An Increase in Customer Touch-Points
Even though your company has an email address and a telephone number, social media gives customers a way to be heard now—regardless of whether you are on the receiving end. Customers no longer have to wait on hold to say something. Customers can express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction however they want.
Successful social brands run with the bulls; they understand that their brand is the sum of online conversations about them and that positive buzz is earned over time. They understand they can’t influence every opinion shared online, and that welcoming a balance of commentary—including the negative—can actually prevent them from getting trampled.
The Speed of Communication
The speed of communication has quickened to a breakneck pace, and customers expect questions and comments to be answered and acknowledged quickly. Spending five to ten minutes waiting in a call queue takes customers away from what they’d rather be doing and fosters a level of frustration that might prevent them from calling back. Or, in a worst-case scenario, they might jump ship to a more customer-friendly brand.
Hyper-Responsive, Hyper-Personalized Customer Expectations
When customers ask you a question on Twitter or post a comment on your Facebook wall, their name and basic information is there—available for your brand to use to identify who they are to you. Today’s customer wants to be treated as an individual, and expects you to utilize the information at hand to understand who they are so they don’t have to tell you each time.
The Explosion of User Generated Content
People now experience brands in a networked way, as opposed to on an individual basis only. In the past, companies were able to control mass messaging, and while they couldn’t guarantee how people talked about their brands and products with one another, there were never the opportunities to spread opinions on a mass scale like there are now.
As individuals, customers have capitalized on the ability they now have to publish content of their own, and use those publishing channels to share opinions about everything, including how your brand or product made their lives easier and better, and how your company has treated them along the way. The previously one-way broadcast has become a two-way dialogue that’s guided by both the company and the customer.
The Cost-to-Value Opportunity
Because the common customer service model has become heavily automated, customers have, in turn, become more self-sufficient when it comes to seeking out answers to product inquiries or support issues. Forums and message boards have made it possible for groups to aggregate their experiences with a particular product or brand in one place for safe keeping, and people have begun to rely on those gold mines of information instead of reaching out to a company directly.
When brands enable customers to self-serve in this fashion—and on a forum that they own—customers are happy because they have easy access to a wealth of community knowledge, and you’re happy because you’ve kept costs down and have a satisfied customer. Everybody wins.
The Web is a Candid Camera
Our online behaviours are now an integral piece of your larger customer picture, because much of what we do and say on the Internet can be tracked back to our likes, dislikes, and spending habits. Unlike the anonymous opinions that come from a market research survey or focus group, online commentary is on-going and unprompted, and it offers a much richer picture of who we are, what we’re interested in, and how we want to be communicated with.
Increase Mobile Usage
Of Facebook’s I billion monthly active users, 543 million are active on mobile —a 67% year-over-year growth. And, on average, users spend six and a half hours on Facebook via their desktop each month. If a customer is already on Facebook or Twitter, don’t you think they’d rather just hop over to your Facebook or Twitter page to ask a question or voice a complaint rather than opening their email account , Googling your contact email, and typing an email? Social media applications on mobile phones have made this even easier for customers to engage with your brand on the go, at the moment an issue arises.
Where does it start: It starts with making a Commitment
The one thing companies can do right now to get started with social customer service is to commit to it.
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