Article

Linus Gregoriadis
Linus Gregoriadis 4 July 2018

How brands are using social to manage the customer experience

A Digital Leaders roundtable hosted in London last month provided some great insights into how brands are trying to use social channels more strategically as part of their customer experience (CX) initiatives.

A Digital Leaders roundtable hosted in London last month provided some great insights into how brands are trying to use social channels more strategically as part of their customer experience (CX) initiatives.

The session, hosted at Hootsuite’s London headquarters overlooking Tower Bridge, marked the launch of the Social Customer Experience report, written by Digital Doughnut sister company London Research and now available for free from the Hootsuite site in return for registration.

The discussion, which included brands from the worlds of banking, professional services, sport, consumer electronics, retail and automotive, among others, shined a light on some of the challenges companies are facing when trying to elevate social to a more strategic level within the business.

The structure of the discussion – which followed Chatham House rules - broadly followed some of the key themes which emerged from the recently published white paper.

Mapping the entire social customer journey

According to the research, based on a survey of enterprise businesses, 82% of responding companies agree that social is a vital channel for delivering exceptional customer experiences, but 42% of companies lack a defined strategy for integrating social into their existing CX initiatives.

It was clear from the discussion that companies recognise the need to build their understanding of the customer journey to understand how useful information and appropriate content can be delivered appropriately through social channels at the right moments.

One delegate made the point that social is not a ‘magic wand’ that can help brands in a vacuum.  Careful planning is required to understand how value can be added for prospects and customers at different touchpoints, whether through timely customer service or engaging information that builds engagement.

Expand strategies beyond brand awareness

The problem for many brands – especially those not selling directly to the consumer - is that it can be difficult to demonstrate the value of social media beyond top-of-funnel marketing activities.

According to the research, both B2B and B2C companies are much more likely to be using social channels proficiently for building initial awareness than for nurturing and converting prospects, or for improving customer retention and encouraging advocacy.

C-suite executives need a reason to buy into social investment which invariably means a focus on tactics and strategies that can help to improve top-line or bottom-line commercial performance.

Digital leaders can increase the level of buy-in internally with focused social initiatives that deliver tangible results, such as reduced customer service costs, accelerated sales productivity, or the identification of customer segments with an appetite for new products and services.

The importance of measuring return on investment was emphasised during the roundtable, with a warning not to focus on superficial metrics such as Facebook Likes which, in isolation, don’t give an indication of the true value of social activities.

Focus on training, culture and collaboration

Silos within organisations were highlighted as a major problem for companies wanting to take a joined-up approach to social media and customer experience activities.

According to the research, almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents at companies where social has been embedded into corporate cultural values report that staff across the organisation are empowered to use social to improve customer experience, compared to only 24% at companies where a social-friendly culture hasn’t been nurtured.

Employees at all levels of the organisation can be educated around the importance of social media, from CEOs who need mentoring about its potential, to front-line staff who need to be encouraged to help customers and prospects in a timely fashion.

While some CEOs may take no interest in social media, others may be motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO), for example if they are shown to be lagging behind other CEOs in their industry when it comes to thought leadership and engagement through social media.

Premier League players at one particular football club represented at the roundtable are encouraged to post specific content fed to them through an app on their phones which makes it easy for them to share the right information and messaging.

Creativity also needs to be fostered in the context of social media activities. Companies need to generate powerful and engaging ideas for content which provide entertainment and / or utility for people. This content then needs to be atomised and repurposed appropriately across different social platforms.   

Download the Social Customer Experience report now to learn more about how enterprise organisations are using social media to manage the customer experience.

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