Social Media – thorn in your side or invaluable CX insight?


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Five years ago I attended a Customer Service conference. One of the topics on the agenda was Social Media – I cannot remember the specifics of the title or content, but can confidently say that the essence of the presentation was all about the creation and adoption of social media strategy.

Fast forward to 2014, and I am still attending conferences where social media strategy is an agenda item. While the vast majority of organisations recognise the huge impact social media has had on their business – and the way its business interacts with customers – many are still to clearly define how to deal with it.

Ownership of social media from within a company is a consistent theme that still rears its head. Is it the domain or the Marketing team? Should the Customer Service Team be responsible? Should there be a brand new team created especially to focus on social media? I have seen variants of all of them. Where your social media strategy sits in the business is an important decision – some businesses see social media as a vital marketing and communication tool. Some customers see it as a customer service tool. Many customers see Twitter and Facebook as both. The question is – do you know what your customers see social media channels as?

There are a few important things to think about when considering social media – depending on the size and nature of your business. Can social media act as a valuable marketing tool – I am sure you do not need me to tell you the answer to that. There are many great articles online that quantify the benefits – this one is as good as any http://socialmediatoday.com/pamdyer/1568271/top-benefits-social-media-marketing-infographic and features a great infographic. In a recent article in US Hubspot, it was stated that Small- and medium-sized businesses are turning to social media to generate leads and customers. In fact, in 2013, 36% of SMEs attracted a customer from their Twitter marketing campaigns – you can read more in this article http://wsi-onlinemarketingsolutions.co.uk/2014/03/19/how-smes-use-twitter-15-stats-you-should-know/

What about customer service? More and more consumers are looking to social media to interact with organisations from a service perspective. Whether it be to specifically ask for help, or just to ‘vent their anger’, social media is becoming increasingly popular to ‘solve a problem’. In our ever more connected world, we as consumers expect businesses to respond to our pleas for help; however we happen to make the plea – even if you do not have a recognised way of dealing with social media. Failure to respond to a tweet could be fatal. The problem is that social media interaction is still the minority, rather than majority perspective of what is happening to your customers. You must know how to interact with customers using social media channels, but you must not take what is said as representative of the customer base.

If organisations recognise feedback and insight as an opportunity, they will see that social media is a wonderful, unsolicited source of customer feedback. Whether it is happy or unhappy reading, it is a vital component that combined with other sources of insight, can really help you to determine what, where and how you need to improve your customer experience. Social media can also act as your ‘early warning mechanism’ – last week I was caught up immigration issues at Gatwick caused by a failure in the Border Force Computer system – the experience was awful. However, if the organisations involved had been monitoring social media channels more closely, they would have been better able to respond to the Chaos that ensued – you can read about the story here – http://ijgolding.com/2014/04/30/first-impressions-how-an-airport-can-demonstrate-the-importance-of-creating-the-right-ones/.

For those looking for more insipiration and ideas, I can strongly recommend attending the masterclasses run by the CCMA (Call Centre Management Association) and delivered by Martin Hill Wilson – you can find out more about them here http://www.ccma.org.uk/event/social-customer-service-masterclass-manchester/. Martin is one of the best social media thought leaders in the UK, and published a book with Carolyn Blunt last year called ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ – well worth a read!

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This article was originally published for Marketforce 20:20 Customer Experience Network – Their CX Summit is on the 1st and 2nd July in London – read more about it here http://2020.marketforce.eu.com/the-summit/

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