Last week, Idio were given the opportunity to speak at Mashup on ”The Social Customer’, alongside a dedicated panel comprising of Guy Stephens (sCRM Consultant, Cap Gemini), Warren Buckley (Managing Director, BT Retail Customer Service), Amanda Brown (Head of PR, First Direct) and Joshua March (CEO Conversocial) looked at ways that social media has changed the way organisations handle customer care, service and management, and utilise social channels to enhance loyalty.
A seismic shift in customer engagement from call centres to social channels
“”I don’t call call-centres anymore, I tweet” – Andrew Grill
According to a survey from Fishburn Hedges, more than a third of UK consumers (36%) have engaged with brands through social media. This has doubled from 19% since August 2011 and equates to around 18m people. The increased interaction seems to be driven by the widespread belief among respondents (40%) that social media improves customer service, compared to only 7% who feared it would harm service. More than two-thirds (65%) also believe that it is a better way to communicate with companies than call centres. As Warren Buckley explained:
“”Social gives voice to the customer…and Social shows no sign of going away…it’s an incredibly positive change”
One of the ways this has become most apparent, is the way that individual complaints can snowball into mas twitter-mob (just ask . Whereas before customer service engagement was between customer and supplier, now they are between customer, supplier and the social cloud around them. This means customer service must now be quicker and more attentive than ever before. While this is a great landscape for consumers looking for a way to publicize their problems, complaints or issues, it has also put tremendous pressure on brands to react in real-time, often without the luxury of being able to ascertain what is happening. In the case of Warren Buckley, this has meant being locked in a war of attrition with Simon Pegg over BT’s broadband provision!:
Other than how to withstand the relentless social carpet-bombing of British comedy stars, other insights from that night included:
Social media provides lots of useful intelligence. Use it.
People are constantly updating their activity streams and current states of being – in what David Barrow (Chairman, Idio) calls “The plume of interactions“. Historically, customer service has been reactive but the proactive monitoring of the public social cloud has enabled brands like First Direct and BT to anticipate and capitalise upon service opportunities that in turn have improved chances of meeting customer service goals.
- Monitoring social media activity had revealed actionable intelligence for the panel around
- Demographics – Identifying significant demographic groups conversing about the brand
- Sentiment – Determining those groups with positive or negative opinions about the brand
- Crisis Management – Real time global monitoring of conversations to signal when a brand crisis is brewing
- Influencer Identification – Identifying influencers who can be the tipping point for the start or effective management of a crisis for the brand
- Measurement – Tracking the impact of a campaign by measuring positive engagement online
- Comparison – Comparing sentiment about a brand to that of its competitors in aggregate and within select demographic groups
- Engagement – Identifying the impact of social media engagement on the bottom line
Idio understands that customer social media profiles are a lens into understanding each customer’s needs and interests. As such, they should be mined not only for the insight from direct interactions with the brand, but also interactions apart from the brand – all across the social web – to gain a fuller context of each customer.
What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter (unless it doesn’t)
Received wisdom and rigid protocols mean that customer service agents now try to – where appropriate – answer customers on the channel they have chosen. An enquiry on Twitter should be answered on Twitter, if not publicly, then at least in a DM. However there are times when they have to moved to another channel of communication to resolve certain issues. Outside of customer service, however, customers are often switching from one channel to another when interacting with a business. In a report on cross-channel communication, Forrester found that “more than 71 percent of customers reported that they go from the Web to some other channel when researching and buying, and 74 percent of customers said they move from the Web to another channel when getting service.” When they switch channels, it is often recorded as two separate interactions by the support organization; while to the customer, it is simply one continuous experience. Or ideally – should be one continuous experience. People may prefer to be engaged with on the channel they initiated the conversation on, but that does not mean they are not active on other digital channels or social platforms. More likely than not, they are. Multi-channel engagement remains a double-edged sword for most organisations. The problem that most companies are seeing today is that although they have some robust systems for managing the technology associated with the individual channels they support, they do not have mechanisms for managing customers across those channels, and do not capture interactions in a customer-centric and channel independent manner. Looking at cross channel interactions consistently and with both the customer and the service provided being central to the measurement gives you that consistent cross-channel view that allows you to follow the customer’s journey even when they cross channels (for more on this, go here).
Idio’s view is that every customer must be responded to on their preferred channel – but intelligence gained from a channel interaction should inform customer-facing actions on email, web or mobile (for example). By integrating these channels and tracking implicit and explicit behaviour – marketeers can learn more about each customer’s context and journey – and begin to deliver personally relevant messages and content, whatever the channel. Customer service does not end with dealing with a complaint – rather it is a continual cycle of excellent communications, service and content.
Customer service vs Customer Loyalty
Across the panel, there was unanimous agreement that whilst Twitter was the best for customer service, Facebook leant itself better to encouraging customer loyalty.
Facebook community-building exercises for most of the panellists have revolved around coupons, giveaways, and contests as a means ways to encourage customers to talk about their brand and elicit loyalty – to varying effects. One of the most refreshing revelations of the evening was Warren admitting that he liked both O2 and Vodafone’s loyalty schemes and thinks BT can do more (perhaps an exhortation to look into content marketing might be useful!)
Idio think that status updates and competitions can only go so far to engage and encourage repeat visits and engagement on brand Facebook pages. Publishing quality, informative and interesting new content – on whichever channel – rewards and encourages recurring visits. The next step for Facebook customer relations will be a personalised experience whereby individuals receive an experienced tailored to their interests and needs in dynamic FB tabs.
More on the above will be discussed in Idio’s White Paper on the Social Customer to be published later this month.
Idio creates an individualised customer experience with personalised content based on known customer data to establishing a long-term customer relationship and gain deeper customer intelligence.
Idio’s platform applies content curation, real-time decisioning and predictive analytics to enable brands to do content marketing that is trackable, scalable and measurable, and understands each customer’s evolving social and behavioural context.