Social Media has taken a huge part of our lives to the next level. Someone who would have been lonely because he or she had limited people’s skills in the 80s or 90s is by today’s standards still popular if he or she has 500 Facebook friends. We can now contact and keep in touch with our friends from school. Families don’t need to send an assortment of birthday pictures to their overseas relatives via their email distribution list because they can now upload them to their social media. Even news had become ubiquitous in snippet format via Twitter, Instagram video and Snapchat.
How then can brands utilize this phenomenon to service their customers better? One great way is to integrate customer service into the social pipeline. Into something industry experts are calling “Social Care”
Why, you ask me? The answer is simple. Social is more accessible to both sides of the spectrum. Customers find it easier to address their questions via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and brands can respond directly and quicker to customer needs. Email has been around for a while but the need to be formal has kept many a customer from asking a question or putting in a complaint. Also, the fact that social is public means brands are (or at least should be) more eager to sort our complaints, lest they get a bad reputation online. And what worse way to lose brand equity than have something negative go viral in the digital world?
According to statistics in the US, 53% of customers who tweet a question expect an answer within a couple of hours. If it’s a complaint regarding your product, it goes up to 72% and they expect a reply in under an hour. I don’t know the statistics for this in Kuwait but trust me; the sentiment should be roughly the same. We are firmly in the “Now” generation where everyone has little time for trivial stuff and everyone wants answers now.
So why is it worth investing in Social Care? I’ll give you a few reasons:
Brands can save money
Depending on the kind of problem and the product or service involved, about half of the queries posted on social media can be resolved within a few minutes. On average it costs a company $1(300 fils) to respond to a question and solve an issue. If you equate this cost of this compared to interaction via the traditional customer service hotline whereby the call goes through to a call center and so on, the cost of resolving an issue is much higher.
Immediate (and sometimes better) customer satisfaction
Some of the top 100 global companies improved customer satisfaction by 19%. Let’s face it, when your query is resolved in a matter of minutes on social media, you are satisfied and the chances of you letting your social network know about your positive customer experience is high. This improved and instant customer satisfaction can positively affect a brand’s overall customer experience thereby elevating its social care status.
Companies that develop their social care abilities can improve on their sales through effectively upselling, cross-selling and customer retention. Social media officers are often like business development people and a trait of a good social media person is their ability to see the potential of selling a particular product or service to a customer and clinch that opportunity. So in essence they aren’t just there to answer questions but to also suggest, recommend and sometimes endorse a product.
So there you have it, the inherent value of investing in social care. But capturing this value requires a clear strategy that integrates customer service with social care in the digital ecosystem of an organization. At the same time, brands need to invest in tools that can speed up and provide analytics to better serve customers via social care.
While call center agents can have the usual attributes of a good agent like being passionate about the brand, being able to identify and solve issues, being empathetic to customers, they should also be good at communicating via written (or typed words) with a deep understanding of social media etiquette. At the end of the day, these agents and social media officers should not just be answering queries and resolving problems but they should also be involved in spotting opportunities to engage with customers before they’ve even bought anything.
Social care empowers brands to make meaningful and valuable connections with their customers but to achieve success; brands need to clearly understand the value of investing in it to pave way for a new breed of sales and customer service people.
Barry Rodrigues is Head of Marketing & Product Development at Future Communications and an associate advisor with the International Advisors Group in Kuwait. Barry also provides pro-bono consulting services for small businesses to help them achieve their marketing objectives. For comments, please email Barry at [email protected].