Thursday, January 28, 2016

Social Media’s Impact on Customer Experience

By Dan Gingiss
Head of Digital Marketing

Social media is increasingly becoming a larger piece of the Customer Experience (CX) puzzle, meaning that a brand’s actions on social – both marketing and service – greatly affect the overall public perception of the brand.

Previous posts looked at: (1) what is customer experience, how it is measured, and why it is important; and (2) how offline experiences can move online, and what brands can do about it. This post, which is the final one in the series, focuses on the role of social media and how it contributes to overall CX.

How Social Media Is Different

If CX is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a brand across all channels, then of course social media interactions would be included. But social stands out from other channels for several reasons, because it is:

  • Public
  • Always On
  • Searchable
  • Shareable
  • Permanent

Social media is also a unique channel because it is, by definition, social. Many brands forget the social part of social media and instead treat it like any other media channel – with a proverbial megaphone that makes the brand’s voice louder than anyone else’s.  The problem with this approach is that no one wakes up in the morning and checks Facebook or Twitter or Instagram hoping to hear from a brand. But people are indeed interested in engaging with brands they like, and social media is a great channel for that. Social requires brands to talk with people instead of at them.

It is also important to note that in social media, the power shifts from the brand to the consumer. When brands exceed (or miss) expectations, consumers react by telling their friends and followers. Thus, it is extremely important that social media managers keep a close watch on both social initiatives and offline initiatives that have the potential to come online.

Social Media Marketing

A brand’s  presence in social media usually begins with its profile page. This is the place where a company can show off its products or services, people, values, culture, and hopefully personality. A great example is the Twitter profile page of Hyatt Concierge, which is brand right, welcoming, and establishes a clear connection to offline experience. 

Likewise, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM)’s Twitter profile page is clean, brand right, and establishes a clear focus on customer service with a real-time response time indicator.

To enhance the overall customer experience with social media marketing, a brand should:

  • Highlight its personality
  • Provide “Youtility” (useful content) to its audience
  • Make its content shareable
  • Always be relevant

The brand should also be careful not to blanket paid or promoted content, which can become annoying to prospects and existing customers alike.

Social Media Customer Service

“Customer service is the new marketing” is becoming a more and more popular mantra, especially as it pertains to the social media channel. Why? Because more and more customers are turning to social media to ask questions, file complaints, and occasionally even send compliments. While many customers proactively come to a brand’s Facebook page or @mention a brand on Twitter, many others initiate service requests as a reply to brand marketing that they see in their feed. Thus, social marketing and customer service teams must be closely aligned on content, staffing, and response times.

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert recently teamed with Edison Research to look closely at social media customer service. Among their findings:

  • 62% of first complaints are made via phone or e-mail
  • Only 40% of social media complaints are addressed
  • 39% of social media complainers expect a response within 1 hour, but social media complaints (if answered at all) are addressed in an average of 5 hours
  • Responding to a complaint in social media increases customer advocacy by 20%, but not responding to a complaint in social media decreases customer advocacy by 45%

The upshot of this data is that brands must double down on their efforts to service customers in social media. But social care needs to be integrated into the larger service organization so that social agents are equally trained and empowered. If not, customers may experience one answer in one channel and a “better” answer in another channel – and they will take advantage.

To enhance the overall customer experience with social media customer service, a brand should:
  • Serve the customer in their channel of choice
  • Respond to everything: Praise, Questions, Complaints
  • Practice “First Tweet Resolution” – solving the inquiry in one response
  • Use DM or chat to take private information out of a public space
  • Make it easy for customers to interact – look at service hours, available channels, whether your Facebook wall is open to posts, and whether you are using one or more Twitter handles

In short, a relentless focusing on the customer – which is the heart of CX theory – will also lead to success in social media. One measure of this success is that the engagement rate on customer service responses – that is, the number of clicks, likes, retweets, comments, etc. after a customer service inquiry is resolved – will be many times that of even the best marketing effort.

Dan Gingiss is the co-host of the Focus on Customer Service podcast, which features large and small brands with demonstrated success in the area of social media customer service. The podcast can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.


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