The Challenge: In the past, brands addressed customer service issues by way of a primary channel -- the 'call center.' But now, companies must also monitor, respond, and engage in a variety of social channels.
If a brand is unskilled in social media customer engagement, adapting customer service programs to new channels can be challenging: brands might default to reactivity -- essentially, playing 'defense' -- when faced with disgruntled customers online.
However, making reactivity the foundation of your social customer service strategy causes brands to view customer relationships as things to 'manage,' rather than opportunities to proactively add value to the customer experience.
According to the 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer, consumers spend 21 percent more with companies who deliver great service -- compared to 13 percent on average." Therefore, to achieve high impact in our social media world, brands must now view 'customer service' as an integral part of their overall marketing strategy that can have dramatic impact on the bottom line.
Key Takeaways for Marketers:
1. Make Passion for Service a Corporate Value
Customer Service is marketing. Customer Service representatives should view themselves as the 'front line' of a company's marketing and branding efforts. Treat every service engagement as an opportunity to increase engagement and drive brand advocacy.
2. Surprise and Delight With Authentic Engagement
Recently named the #1 Best Small Company to Work for in the U.S. by FORTUNE Magazine in 2012, Oregon-based virtual receptionist services provider, Ruby Receptionists, lists the drive to "WOW" customers among their core company values:
"We're about finding that special something that will knock your socks off, and giving it to you before you even know about it... Simply doing a good job isn't enough for us."
The company frequently engages with customers via Twitter and Facebook and regularly sends customers handwritten 'thank you' notes, demonstrating a truly 'hybrid' form of customer service.
3. Treat Every Service Interaction as a Marketing Event
Every service opportunity affects your brand's reputation; thus, representatives must be trained to treat interactions as opportunities to communicate relevant and personalized messaging.
Based on learnings from Voice of Customer Research, leading provider of community-based preventative health services, Life Line Screening, discovered that customers wanted service interactions to demonstrate true engagement. As part of their commitment to transforming the customer experience, the Life Line Screening customer service center now reports to Marketing to ensure that the service experience is about engagement, not transactions. The result: 85 percent increase in returning customers and 40 percent increase in revenue per customer.
4. Prioritize Immediacy
Social Media happens in real-time.
Track brand mentions, concerns, and questions 24/7, and respond immediately. People will show their appreciation by retweeting your responses, broadcasting your good deeds to hundreds of others.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine. His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."