Customer Service 3.0

Every interaction that a customer has with a company can make or break a brand.  One wrong move and a customer will ban a brand for life.  If a customer gets angry enough, s/he will blast the company online and spread the word about a horrible experience.  On Web 3.0, this rapid-fire word-of-mouth can cause irreparable damage.  So why haven’t companies realized the power of social media as a customer service tool?

A Mashable article published last year stated that 80% of companies planned to incorporate social media more heavily into its service process.  However, this article presents some very interesting statistics illustrating that companies apparently forgot about their promise.  These are the two that stood out to me:

– 56% of companies ignored complaints posted on Facebook

– 71% of complaints made on Twitter went completely ignored

Here’s one more statistic for good measure: Only 23% companies have dedicated customer service handles on Twitter.

I find it interesting that companies are quick to embrace emerging media but fail to use them to their full potential.  I would argue that customer service is a much larger component of a brand than advertising, public relations, or any other form of media ever could be. Think of Zappos.  Zappos is what I call a “case study brand”: one that is highlighted time and time again for simply being outstanding in the marketing world.  The Zappos brand is founded on customer service, and this is present on its social media sites.  Zappos is not only quick to respond to positive and negative comments, but it also personalizes responses so that customers feel valued.

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It might be a tall order to request that every company be like Zappos, but all companies should remember that social media needs to be a tool for customer service – unless, of course, their customers aren’t too important to them.

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Social Media Trends for 2014

As we rapidly approach the end of 2013, it’s time to predict what will emerge for different media tactics in the coming year.  Ad Age – among many publications – just released its guide to social media strategy for 2014.  Here are the best practices outlined in the guide – and my commentary on each:

1)  Have the internal digital marketing and brand marketing teams collaborate on social media.

The point of this best practice is to foster collaboration between two teams that are critical for social media success.  The digital marketing team knows exactly how to navigate the social sphere and the best tactics for doing so.  While the brand marketing team may not have that expertise, it will certainly know how to weave the brand story into social media.  When these two teams collaborate, the result will be the very definition of integrated marketing communication: telling a consistent brand story across multiple platforms.

2) Consider hiring outside help to support the internal social media team.

There is definitely merit to this best practice.  Just because a company is active (or desires to be active) on social media does not mean it has the resources to do so.  Training internal team members on managing social media can cost more time and money than an organization is prepared to spend.  However, social media is an incredible opportunity for companies to be transparent, and this transparency is best handled by employees who know the company the best.  Thus, external support should be used, but only for supplementary purposes.

3) Create brand-specific social media strategies.

The idea behind this is that consumers often interact more with some of a company’s products than they do with the company itself, so brand-specific strategies will honor that interaction.  As a marketer, I would like to think this is a given.  Consumers probably don’t connect with Procter & Gamble very much, but there is no question that P&G brands like Tide, Crest, and Olay garner far more engagement.  So what would a P&G social media strategy accomplish? Not much.

4) Use a social media management system (SMMS) to keep track of metrics and progress.

Social media management systems (SMMS) are a great way to centralize all of a company’s social media activity.  Having all of this information in one centralized hub makes monitoring and analysis much easier.  Here is an article that gives a great overview and list of SMMS.

5) Send messages across multiple networks to take advantage of each network’s unique properties and consumer behavior.

This is also a given for those who are mildly versed in social media.  Although it may be easier to post the same content to Facebook and Twitter, marketers have to know that, for example, a 140-character limit on Twitter requires different content.  Furthermore, if there are consumers following one brand across multiple networks, they would certainly get bored if they were to see the same thing more than once.

6) Develop a measurement-specific strategy with clear brand benefits.

The guide advises that marketers move past simply measuring engagement and focusing on how social media impacts the bottom line.  And why shouldn’t they? Every marketing investment must deliver a return, and this return might be beyond how engaged people are with the brand.  This is not to say that engagement is not important.  However, 2014 might be the year in which marketers scrutinize how engagement affects sales.

Here is a more tactic-centered list of 2014 social media predictions. 

What are yours?