Social media is really important. But when it comes to collecting actionable insight or using social to create smarter customer experience, lots of businesses are missing out. Here's some tips to improve the way you listen to, engage and profit from your social customers.
All over the world, social media has completely redefined how consumers shop. Instead of heading to the mall for hours to browse or driving between multiple locations to see what’s available before purchasing, consumers have reviews, ratings and research on products and services in a matter of seconds.
This is undoubtedly the age of the social customer!
Once a upon a time, if a customer had a concern or complaint, they were unlikely to voice it has it required effort in the form of a phone call, in-person visit or snail mail letter. Those days are long gone as customers now have social media as a platform to voice their feedback and discontent.
Social customers are quick, savvy and their power cannot be underestimated
With a few choice comments or clicks today's hyper-connected customers can quickly make — or break — your brand’s reputation:
- More than 88% of consumers are influenced by reviews when purchasing (eConsultancy)
- Customers who use social media for customer service will tell an average of 42 other people when service is good, but an estimated 53 people when it is not good (American Express)
- 42% of consumers complaining on Twitter expect a response within the hour (The Social Habit)
In short, customers trust their peers more than they trust you, and if you don’t address their needs they will tell their friends, who tell their friends and so on. Before long, a mishandled customer service incident turns into a large amount of lost revenue, along with erosion of the brand’s value.
We’ve all seen high profile cases of brands not responding to customers in a timely fashion on social media, or completely disregarding the feedback being consistently provided by customers — and it’s not pretty. A perfect example of is the real-time feedback of airline passengers as they are travelling. The time-sensitive nature of travel makes customers incredibly frustrated when they cannot get help in-person or online to resolve their issues which can quickly make for a social media storm. Social customers expect feedback — so an airline that consistently ignores customer queries via social is likely to experience lost revenue as customers vote with their dollars.
The other side of the coin with social customers is understanding how they will respond when your brand has issues with poorly thought out social media content or how it reacts in the face of a crisis. The ability to quickly identify and address issues is necessary to thrive in the age of the social customer.
Not convinced? Check out this list of 35 social media fails that quickly prove how powerful social customers are and the impact these missteps can have.
Real-Time Response Determines Success with Social Customers
Your brand’s ability to respond quickly to the needs of the social customer will determine if your company thrives. That response time goes beyond your customer service or social media team, and needs to be a company-wide focus where data is gathered and assessed to keep a pulse on the social customer at all times.
Every company has a choice. You can choose to try to survive the social customer, or to work with them so that they become your biggest fans and you are thriving. Here are three strategies to help you thrive with social customers:
Tip #1: Start New Conversations
Data can help you learn everything you need to know about your social customers so you can open up new conversations with your customers. For example, if you identify an issue with shipping in an area, you can proactively address it with your clients. If you know there’s a shortage of an item, you can work to ensure customers are handled appropriately before they turn to Facebook to express their disappointment.
That same insight enables you to understand what they may need in the future, what products may appeal to them and what they really want from your brand.
Tip #2: Concentrate on Customer Experience
Moving beyond the conversation, you want to understand how your customers share opinions about your brand. Aggregating data from social platforms, as well as using your customer survey data, you can start to paint a picture of your social customer’s behavior.
If they are unhappy, do they go right to their favorite social platform to complain? Do they contact the company first? When do they refer the company and what makes them share information via social media?
This data is incredibly powerful as it can be used to shape customer experience and marketing campaigns, as well as determining how social media is best used for customer service and complaint handling.
Tip #3: Move Confidently into Your Social Space
Faced with the unprecedented power of the social customer, the inclination of many brands is to hide. It is a mistake to simply ignore social media as part of how your company does business because it is a critical part of the customer experience.
With the right data being gathered and channels monitored, your brand can build a strong, interactive social presence that can be used to promote the company’s efforts, create engaged customers and more — all of which can be used to drive referrals and leads for the company.
Bonus Tip: Blend Social Insight with Panel Research
Recruiting social media users for your customer panels can take your CXM program to the next level. Panelist recruitment and retention have become more challenging in the last few years. To counteract this, quality should always be a concern when employing social media as a component of your panel strategy. In fact, part of blending social media into traditional panel involves three critical components, River Sampling, Facebook Integration, and Quality Assurance.
From a quality perspective, social media respondents are over two times more likely to fail a quality control check than members of online panels (30% vs. 13%). And river sampling requires capturing new panel members where they socialize -- right on the social media sites. Finally, Facebook integration means building privatized communities of your customers right on your Facebook page and asking them questions a little at a time.
Ultimately, every brand has a choice: sit back and hope to survive social, or step up and take full advantage of the social age. A winning approach to social customers isn't easy and won't happen overnight. It takes time and planning. But if you follow the tips listed above, you'll start seeing transformative results.
How is your company doing with social customers? Find us over on LinkedIn to comment, and let us now how you’ll be improving or creating your social strategy.
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