Being social with your brand in an increasingly digital age
- Outsource Magazine
- On November 22, 2011
The astronomical growth of social media has rocked the boat for the entire customer service industry. Organisations can no longer ignore the influence that the new ‘social customer’ can have on a business’ reputation, especially given the continuing rise in popularity of these new online channels. The recent 2011 Convergys UK Customer Scorecard Research found that 57 per cent of all respondents (covering an age range from 18 to 74) had a social media account, such as Twitter or Facebook or even their own blog.
A problem shared, is a problem multiplied
Staggeringly, the same research study revealed that of the 36 per cent of UK customers who had a bad experience with a given organisation, the vast majority (83 per cent) told friends and colleagues about it: a significant vocal group that cannot be overlooked. Of those consumer respondents who said they told friends or colleagues of a bad experience, 16 per cent used social media and 8 per cent used texting.
While these percentages may sound low, there is a significant multiplier effect in these channels. A traditional conversation may reach a handful of people, for example, but a Facebook post could easily reach hundreds, potentially even thousands. And this vocalisation of dissatisfaction does not go unheeded. Of those who read their friends’ negative social media posts, 61 per cent said they avoided doing business with the company, and a further 15 per cent stopped doing business with the company as a result of reading such posts: a sobering thought on the long-term consequences of a bad customer service interaction.
These figures highlight the possible exponential damage social media can have – and consumers are only becoming more empowered. Businesses need to be aware of how social media can inflate a bad experience from just a single event, into something that has ramifications to the bottom line.
Nip it in the bud
How do companies combat these bad experiences, and stop an explosion of negativity across social media? Forward-thinking organisations are finding that the key is to identify a problem, and act with a swift efficiency to respond to, and resolve the situation.
With a vast amount of content generated via social media, businesses must establish a process that allows them to filter through the myriad of updates and identify the ones which require action. This is no easy feat when you consider that Twitter reported that there were 25 billion tweets published on its site last year.
When a negative comment appears on a social media platform, companies must be able to capture it, evaluate the event, and – from the policies that are in place to deal with it – identify the best course of action that leads to a resolution. This process must be conducted proficiently and promptly, in order to stop any damaging comments spreading through the social media ecosystem.
Listening in, join in
For a company to effectively navigate the vast web of interaction and influence that is social media, the company must take an intelligent approach. There has to be a marriage of the new, social technologies with the more established customer service operating systems, such as customer interaction history or purchase value. This blend of the old and new ensures the provision of a well-rounded and comprehensive service to all customers.
The scale of the combined traditional and new, social forms of communications necessitates the use of intelligent technological solutions to provide a custom-made and inclusive customer experience. It is vital for organisations to be able to communicate across the wide variety of channels that customers are using, such as IM, SMS or Twitter, as well as established channels such as voice and email.
Through the intelligent application of technology, companies can incorporate customer service interactions into existing work streams, and intensify action around an event to achieve an effective response.
Make it easy on your customer
Ensuring that a customer interaction is dealt with efficiently, and through a channel that the customer prefers, is vital to resolving any negative interactions and critical to ensuring constant satisfaction.
Loyalty and interaction satisfaction are synergistically linked. Indeed, the Convergys survey revealed that of the 53 per cent of UK customers who describe themselves as loyal to a company, 82 per cent were satisfied with their last interaction. That loyalty can in turn help drive desirable consumer behaviour. For example, 60 per cent of respondents said that one way they show loyalty to a company was being likely to recommend the product to a friend or colleague, which can ultimately increase the customer base. Making frequent purchases was cited by 40 per cent of customers as another way that they demonstrate loyalty, which can ultimately help increase a company’s bottom line.
The real benefit of social media as a customer service tool extends past simply resolving customer issues. It offers the chance to increase satisfaction by delivering closer behavioural customer insight. This can be used to proactively reinforce an existing relationship, and grow the appeal of a company to new customers.
About the Author
David Lopes is the Director of Technology and Business Development for Convergys’ Customer Management business in EMEA, working in the Enterprise and Networks space. He has spent more than 10 years creating leading-edge voice automation systems that deliver great customer experiences as well as rapid ROI for large and small enterprises.