Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

Customer Service

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

In a perfect world you gain millions of fans and followers.  Everyone is happy with your product (or service) and are raving about you on their social networks.  Your brand evangelists share their good experience and promotes your brand to people they know and even help you answer questions from fellow fans and prospective customers.

In the real world though, people will at some point get disappointed with your company and your brand.  They will post bad reviews, criticisms (constructive or otherwise).  What do you do when one of your customers is upset and posted his/her frustrations online?

Customer service, unlike in the past,  is no longer just measured on the number of first-time resolutions and average handle time (in the case of call centers), instead successful customer service is based on other factors like up-selling/cross-selling rates and conversation volume metrics.  It is said that by 2020, 90% of enterprise level companies will be using social media for customer inquiries.  I personally think it’s going to happen even earlier than 2020.

Another reason to jump in the social media customer service band wagon, is that web, chat, social support is expected to grow by a whopping 53% in the next year!  It is no longer about answering complaints but effectively listening, monitoring, and engaging with brand mentions online.

A recent survey asked companies in the US what business activities their company use Social Media for:
  • Customer Service is the second most popular activity
  • Marketing is the first use of social media
  • 67% of enterprises are already using social media for a variety of activities
Common issues they face are:
  • Lack of goal setting
  • Lack of communication with customer service centers about strategy
  • 55% of consumers expect same day reply to complaints
  • Only 29% receive a same-day response
  • Brands ignored 71% of customer’s complaints on Twitter
Dunking Donuts (USA) focused on using Social Media to the fullest in making sure customers are happy by:
  • Having Regular meetings
  1. Internal Monday morning connects
  2. Bi-weekly deep-dive meetings
  3. Program-specific meetings
  • Taking care of their brand ambassadors
  • Setting up an open-door/phone/email policy

How is your company using Social Media to in improving The Customer Experience?

How to Integrate your Social Media Efforts

Integrating your Social Media EffortsPhoto credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Integrating your social media efforts can be a tedious undertaking.  To some it can be a nightmare that leads to endless sleepless nights.  Each organization, big or small, needs to come up with a way to organize their thoughts and send out a united message across all Social Platforms.  Having one cohesive message across all facets of your social media identity is very important to project an image of uniformity and integrity.

Here are two basic ways to integrate social media:
  • Existing Online Channels - always take into consideration your current online channels.  Identify all your social media channels, their strengths and weaknesses.  Is there a need to venture into other channels based on your company / organization’s need?  Which of these channels is more important to you?  Do you need to allocate extra resources in managing certain channels?
  • Cross Pollination – promote your other accounts throughout your social networks.  Each channel would have limitations and you need to know how to address these and take advantage of  their respective strengths.

What are best practices in integration?

  • Social Media Icons that allows users to like, +1 or follow
  • Social Sharing Icons for sharing your page, article or product to other social networks
  • Allowing and / or importing reviews from other social platforms to your site
Optimize your emails to social media by
  • Stand-Alone Campaign – sending an email providing a value proposition for going to the social network site
  • Optimize all emails – promote a specific product or service and promote social media networks on top on all emails.

What Traditional Marketing Strategies work best with your Social Media Efforts?

Social Media can be further strengthen by integrating them to your traditional marketing tactics like TV, Direct MailCall Centers, Point of checkout in retails stores, and Business Cards.

Ayan is a driven social media consultant with extensive experience in the field of social. He designed and implemented social media strategies for companies in different industries such as telecommunications, government, sports, apparel, real estate, health and wellness to name a few.  

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+

Showrooming a retail shift?

Showrooming

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Social Commerce maybe a foreign idea to our parents back in the days.  Today however, buying stuff online is just as common and even easier than going to a physical  (brick and mortar) store.  With the falling prices of smart phones and tablets and availability of fast internet connection (although internet connection in developing countries remain way below the average global broadband speed), more and more people are favoring Social Shopping.

What is Social Commerce?

Social Commerce is the use of social networks in the context of E-Commerce transactions.  The social networks that spread advice increase customer’s trust over one retail over another.  Shoppers now can post comments, reviews, take part in forums and conversations among others.

What is Social Shopping?

Social Shopping is a method of E-commerce where a shopper’s friends get involved in the shopping experience.  The whole idea of social shopping is to use technology to mimic the social experience in physical malls and stores.  Sites that use this technology usually asks their users to participate through motivational tactics like offering tangible rewards for sharing information, incentives in the form of reputations points, or points that can be used to redeem gifts.  Majority of these sites though rely on the user’s intrinsic sense of social reward to share with the community.

With a growing number of shoppers researching on the internet before buying a product in stores or the internet a new phenomenon in Social Shopping is emerging called Showrooming.

What is Showrooming?  Why should I care?

Showrooming is when a customer goes to a physical store to touch and test a product and then go online or go to a low-service, factory outlet, or warehouse store to purchase the item at a lower cost.  Online stores offer the same product at a lower price because they don’t have a huge overhead cost compared to physical stores.  Showrooming can be very costly to these brick and mortar stores not only because of the loss of sale but also because of the lost time, energy, and manpower as well as the possible damage to the samples of the product.

This is a huge concern for retailers and most of them are left with no other choice but to compete by slashing their prices.  Experts say that the best way to counter showrooming is by adding value via included services and other tactics.

A study conducted by Edgell Network and eBay Local said:

  • 80% of the retailers said that they expect their sales to be affected negatively by 5%
  • 49% of retailers said they are not prepared and only 12% said they have a strategy re showrooming
Shoppers who use smartphones as tools when doing their showrooming are 40% more likely to purchase in the store than those who do not.  This means that when a sales person catches a customer researching on the phone they should be help immediately
How to combat Showrooming?
  1. Training - If a customer can find more or better info from his phone about your product then that’s bad for your business.
  2. Price matching – Although matching the price consumers find online maybe easier said than done.
  3. Embrace it – Embrace showrooming through mobile apps, online promotions, and developing a short term and long term social shopping strategy

How do you counter Showrooming?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Social Media’s implication to Marketers

Implication of Social Media to Marketers

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Now that we’ve established the importance of Social Media in doing business today,  let’s look at the implications of Social Media to Marketers.  What are the positive and negative effects of Social to Marketers and to your business in general.
Positive implications of Social Media to Marketers:
  1. May help increase your credibility
  2. Improve Branding
  3. Allows you to manage your organization’s / brand’s / company’s reputation
  4. Thought Leadership
  5. Social signals influencing search
  6. Viral possibilities
  7. Opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive
  8. Quicker Response Time
  9. Publicity maker
Some of the positive can also become negative:
  1. May decrease your credibility
  2. Damage Branding
  3. Hurt your organization’s / brand’s / company’s reputation
  4. Bad Customer Service and Reviews
  5. An issue left unmanaged can go viral fast
  6. Lack of control
You also have to keep a keen eye on:
  • Who is part of your Social Media Team?
  • Who is responsible for the Social Media Team?
  • Political Correctness is a big issue
  • Negative situations can go viral and become ugly quickly
What to do when a negative situation goes Viral?

It is imperative that before starting a social media activity you are aware that things can go bad (and I mean really bad).  You are opening yourself, your company, your brand to the world and letting everyone join the conversation.  You have to be prepared and you must have a CRISIS MANAGEMENT PLAN if something bad does happen.  I will discuss more in detail on my future posts.

Do you have any question(s)?  Leave a comment below.

Ayan is a driven social media consultant with extensive experience in the field of social. He designed and implemented social media strategies for companies in different industries such as telecommunications, government, sports, apparel, real estate, health and wellness to name a few.  

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+

Social Media and the Marketing Conversion Funnel

conversion funnel

According to Wikipedia a Conversion Funnel is a technical term used in e-commerce operations to describe the track a consumer takes through an Internet advertising or search system, navigating an e-commerce website and finally converting to a sale.

The metaphor of a funnel is used to describe the decrease in numbers that occurs at each step of the process.

How can you apply this in your Social Media efforts?  I’ve created an illustration of the convention funnel and what you can do in each step.

Are you applying social media in your marketing conversion funnel?  Share your experience.  Leave your comments below.

Ayan is a driven social media consultant with extensive experience in the field of social. He designed and implemented social media strategies for companies in different industries such as telecommunications, government, sports, apparel, real estate, health and wellness to name a few.  

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+

Content is the King in Social Media!

ConversationsPhoto credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Now that you know who your audience is (click here to read my earlier post) you now need to know what you wanna share with them.  How do you differentiate your brand from everyone out there?  Imagine listening to 10 people talking at the same time.  How do you decide which one merits your attention?

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with Social Media?  How do you want to engage your audience? How will you have a conversation with your audience? How will you drive brand awareness and sales?

Ultimately Social Media is a way to communicate with your audience but remember this is also a way to engage with them.  You can use Social Media to drive brand awareness and sales but be aware that if you just use it simply to sell eventually you will lose followers and your messages will fall on deaf ears.  So what kind of content you can drive in Social Media that’s not just sales.

1. Use Social Media to communicate with your audience about things that would be meaningful to them outside of the type of product you sell.

2. Engage your audience about things that are relevant to your product without actually selling anything.

3. Don’t just sell stuff on Social Media but instead offer useful information about your organization, brand, product, or service.

What are your thoughts?  Leave your comment below :)

Ayan is a driven social media consultant with extensive experience in the field of social. He designed and implemented social media strategies for companies in different industries such as telecommunications, government, sports, apparel, real estate, health and wellness to name a few.  

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+

Do You Know Your Audience?

Know your audiencePhoto credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Imagine yourself doing the opening act for a huge pop star.  You’re a rocker at heart and with an electric guitar on hand you step out to a huge stage with thousands of people screaming and excited to listen to you sing.  All of a sudden you realize your audience is not really into rock but it’s already too late.

Companies commit the same mistake by pushing information that is not suitable to their target audience.  This is the reason Social Data Intelligence is very important before starting any social media activity.  Knowing who your audience and what they want can greatly affect the success of each social media project.

Here are some questions you need to ask before starting a social media activity:

1. Is your target audience in Social Media?

2. Are they on popular Social Media Networks or are they on niche sites?

3. What are they doing on these Social Media sites?

In the United States, 58M Americans have at least one Social Media Profile.  Social Media is very popular to ages 18 – 49 with some college education with the most being women.  One of the fastest growing age group are the baby boomers.  Retirees and people who are not familiar with Facebook or Twitter are starting to catch up.

So why do people use Social Media?

1. Mainly to connect with current and old friends

Everyone loves to see what their friends are up to.  An occasional friend request from an old friend you haven’t seen for years is also a nice surprise.

2. Product Research

People nowadays go online when they want to buy something.  They research about the product / service and read reviews and comments.  Because of this trend the problem of showrooming started and is now one of the concerns of the retail industry. (Will discuss showrooming on my next posts)

3. Travel Recommendations

Don’t you just love looking at travel photos of your friends and family members?  Everyone loves to share their experience good or bad about their recent trips to exotic destinations.  Nowadays you can access information about your next destination of choice without even leaving your bed.

4. Political Grandstanding / Opinions / Views

Everyone has their own opinion on everything that’s happening around them.  The world definitely got smaller and smaller because of social media.  Governments have fallen with the use of Social Media.  Information is transferred in unprecedented speed from one person to another.

Social Data Intelligence and adequate research is necessary to know who your audience is.  Learn to listen and understand your audience.  Develop a social media strategy that fits your target market.  Learn to communicate in your audience’s language.

Ayan is a driven social media consultant with extensive experience in the field of social. He designed and implemented social media strategies for companies in different industries such as telecommunications, government, sports, apparel, real estate, health and wellness to name a few.  

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+