Article

Jennifer Trenery
Jennifer Trenery 13 July 2015

Why Every Brand Needs Around-The-Clock Social Monitoring

Customer services has been completely transformed over the last 20 years. Social media has changed the way we interact with businesses in every sector, as well as what we expect from them.

Customer services has been completely transformed over the last 20 years. Social media has changed the way we interact with businesses in every sector, as well as what we expect from them.



People now have the power to make their voices heard online. And we’re listening to each other:

  • Some 68% of consumers trust ‘consumer opinions posted online’ more than advertising, according to Nielsen
  • Shoppers trust consumer reviews nearly 12 x more than manufacturer descriptions, according to statistics quoted on Econsultancy

Marketers no longer control the messages consumers receive about their brand. Consumers now hear word of mouth not just from the people they know, but from the entire world via the internet.

At the same time — consumers don’t rely on your salespeople for information in the same way they used to. Forrester estimates that shoppers can be anywhere from two thirds to 90% through their buying journey before they contact a salesperson.

Modern customers see themselves as your equals. They decide to buy your product, instead of being ‘sold’ to. Writing letters and using call centres is too slow — they expect to talk to you directly through social media, whenever they want to and however they choose. In fact, 42% of customers complaining via social media say they expect a response within an hour.

In this global online economy, where competitors are available at the click of a button, you’ll lose customers if you can’t give them what they want. Only businesses which embrace social customer services will build strong relationships with customers, enabling them to survive.

What’s the worst that can happen if you neglect customers on social media?

British Airways learned the hard way that customers now make the rules about the service they expect. A disgruntled customer bought a ‘promoted tweet’ to complain about his father’s lost luggage.

tweet from http://mashable.com/2013/09/02/man-promoted-tweet-british-airways/

The tweet went viral and was picked up by Mashable. Thousands of Twitter users joined the conversation.

Ten hours later, BA replied: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM [direct message] your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”

You can imagine what people thought about an international business only offering social customer service during UK office hours! Dozens of international news sites picked up on the story. BA turned an easily solved mistake into a global PR disaster. The BA brand is built around superior customer experience — neglecting social media was a big error.

How to get it right

Social media monitoring is an essential element of your customer service and retention strategy. Besides helping you minimise the effects of complaints, there are many benefits:

  • You’ll learn from customer feedback — social media is a free, real time focus group which may offer fascinating insights into how people really use your products and services.
  • You’ll benefit from positive feedback from real people — which is far more convincing to potential customers than anything you might say to promote yourself.
  • You’ll start conversations which give your brand a face and a voice — essential in the crowded online marketplace, where price can appear to be the only comparison factor.

Whose job is social customer services?

There are risks associated with open, instant communication — a committed, trained resource is essential. If you’re delegating engagement to a colleague or external agency, you must trust them to stay within your tone of voice guidelines.

Clear communication between your customer services, social and PR teams is essential — social monitoring and reactive posting are relevant to all three teams. It’s particularly important to agree contingency plans/clear roles within the process.

How to do it

Once the team is assembled, here’s what you need to do:

  • Google your brand — what are people saying about you on social networks and on review sites? If there are negative comments, just replying can make a big difference — it shows your company cares. (As we saw in the case of BA — people weren’t angry because of the lost luggage, but because BA wasn’t available to help.)
  • Investigate where your best customers hang out online. (It’s likely that this will be the four main social networks — LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook — as well as review sites like TripAdvisor and Trustpilot. The most important thing is being available wherever customers are.)
  • Begin interacting with customers — give them useful and interesting information which shows what your brand is all about. Be ready to respond to all their questions, complaints, praise and conversations.

Points to takeaway

  1. Customers expect customer service via social channels — it’s no longer a ‘nice to have’.
  2. Businesses which don’t engage with customers are missing opportunities to build brand advocacy and benefit from feedback.
  3. They’re also opening themselves up for a potential PR disaster.
  4. Supporting customers successfully on social media requires commitment and a clear strategy. Yet the biggest mistake is to do nothing and neglect customers, who will go elsewhere.

 

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