Social media is all the rage lately with new solutions, companies and “gurus” popping up everywhere. There’s no denying that social media has revolutionised the way companies listen to and engage with their customers, but there is also no consensus about its true impact and ROI. Many have claimed social media will eventually boil down to just another method for marketers to shove their agenda down consumers’ throats. Some say it’s the only way companies will do business in the future. So where’s the truth? Well, somewhere in the middle, of course.
We need to remember that social media is still in its infancy and part of the problem is understanding what the real value is. At ClickFox, we recently set out to survey consumers’ preferences and understand their desire to use social media for customer service purposes. Several industries have embraced this medium and have enjoyed much success and accolades, while others have struggled due to low customer adoption rates, strict regulations and overall confusion. We found that 76 per cent of respondents would use social media for customer service purposes if they better understood the tools at their disposal.
The social media landscape is extremely fractured right now, which creates an overwhelming number of ways to interact with customers. You can set up accounts on several platforms and use social monitoring and engagement tools to keep track of all these interactions. You can go a step further and use Social CRM tools to try to connect these customers back to your massive databases. But is it enough?
Customers don’t use social channels exclusively to interact with your company. You’ve spent millions over the past few decades to make sure they can call you, visit your retail locations, go to your websites, email, chat, use self-service kiosks or various other interaction methods. So the question now becomes: Do you really know what these customers have done outside of the social media silo you’ve just created for them?
You might think that social media channels are inexpensive to maintain. Just throw a few bodies at it and they can handle all those pesky tweets and forum posts, right? The reality is that 40 per cent of customers who fail to resolve their issue through social media channels will pick up their phone and try to reach a live agent. That “free” social media interaction just became an extremely costly one with an average cost of $15 per interaction, based on what industry you’re in. Email (17 per cent at $3 per interaction) and online chat (16 per cent at $5 per interaction) round out the top three spots in our survey. Not so cheap anymore, is it?
Customers are not only willing to use social media for customer service issues—they’re coming to expect it as an option. When you respond immediately to customer service requests via social media channels, you provide a positive customer experience upfront. This will prevent customers from exploring other more costly channels to resolve their issues. It’s important to build your social media infrastructures to properly engage with and serve your customer base. The key to achieving seamless and cost‐effective service is to monitor customers as they move from social media to other channels—such as your website or call centre—so that issues can be easily identified and quickly resolved.
Remember: Your customers can be your best sales team or your harshest critics.