Achieving a clear line of sight into customer needs and preferences gives companies the ability to make proactive, informed business decisions. Customers want to engage with organizations when and how they prefer and those channel preferences are rapidly evolving. To address these needs, customer experience leaders continue to develop social media as one of those key channels in a successful customer engagement and service strategy. Customers want service on social networks and are reaching out on these channels instead of picking up the phone or using other more traditional methods. In some cases, social media has either evolved into a fully-leveraged customer service engagement channel, or remains in the early stages of adoption by firms. It can also exhibit high levels of ‘activity’ with little cross-channel integration.
Organizations need a plan to handle the increased expectations from this fast-paced, highly open and interactive channel along with a strategy for how social fits into the holistic omni-channel view of the customer experience. And with social media increasing as a preferred channel among consumers, the time to act is now. Marketers can offer key insights on social media best practices to customer experience leaders as they continue to grow and refine their social customer service plans. I anticipate that these two functional groups – if they are not already – will work closely to achieve a cohesive brand image and seamless experience for their customers. A few thoughts for consideration:
Marketers can offer key insights on social media best practices to customer experience leaders as they continue to grow and refine their social customer service plans.
Drive an Overarching Brand Approach
A holistic and consistent view of the brand is paramount. The brand must be in sync with the strategic vision of the business and help propel that vision forward. All the different parts and pieces should ladder up and be consistent across everything your company does. Every functional area of the organization contributes to the larger brand and influences the customers’ view of your business. It’s both in the way you position yourself to attract your customers initially – and then how you deliver on the brand promise that affects a customer’s emotional connection and, ultimately, the level of loyalty to your company.
As new channels emerge, there can be a disconnect between traditional and digital channel strategy. The brand experience, of course, is reflected on all channels, so there is a need to balance and maintain a consistent and seamless approach at all points of the customer journey.
Develop an Integrated Mix with Social as a Critical Component
Every business needs to evolve and maintain the right strategic mix to achieve key business goals. Marketing consists of many strategic levers that should add up to be larger than the sum of all parts. These levers should be highly integrated and appear seamless and consistent to the end user. Just like social media should be part of an overall strategic marketing mix, social should be integrated into the larger customer experience goals. Social should appear seamless as a channel for customers to communicate with the business, obtain the service they need, simply engage with your company, or share their experiences throughout their social network.
Ultimately, customer experience strategy will encompass and integrate both digital and traditional channels. Social is a key component and one that brings new best practices and expectations from your customer base. Customer experience leaders will recognize, just as marketers do, that there are unique standards that make it a successful channel for their customers and will integrate those best practices into their overall strategy.
Speed, level of engagement and public facing qualities are among some of social’s unique attributes. Social is all about the conversation, just like other traditional service channels, and, if done well, allows for a deeper level of engagement with the brand and drives loyalty. As social becomes an increasingly important component of the channel mix, organizations need to know the key success factors and leverage lessons learned.
Leverage Best Practices
Despite the rising trend of social media adoption as indicated by Pew Research, many organizations have yet to fully absorb social media as an integrated customer service channel. However, there are enough adopters influencing customer expectations on this channel that it should give hesitant organizations a better understanding of the existing best practices, particularly as it relates to customers’ expectations around speed, availability, engagement, privacy and more. Different industries will allow for different levels of engagement, but once the baseline is in place, your organization can enhance service to achieve a best-in-class standard on social media and create a strategic roadmap to drive success. Social is a great opportunity to align and seamlessly integrate the organization’s marketing efforts and brand promise with its service delivery and overall engagement approach.
Just as social media has become a critical channel in the strategic mix for marketers, so too will social customer service continue to grow in importance and play a role in the overall omni-channel customer experience. It is a critical and growing customer contact channel that, if done well, can be a differentiator in the marketplace.
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