How to make your #customers a key part of your marketing team
Organisations are increasingly using social media to interact with customers and turning them into brand ambassadors.
Imagine walking into an office and seeing your employees scrolling through a Facebook feed, or sending out Tweets via Twitter. What would you do? Well, I suppose it depends what that person’s job is. Many firms are now actively using social media to not only engage with their customers, but also to build brand loyalty, improve customer experience and create brand advocates.
In fact, Microsoft has an entire Social Command Center in the US, with 130 employees who follow social chatter and engage with people about Microsoft products.
The rise in mobile devices, from smart phones, tablet computers, laptops to smart watches, mean that this generation it almost always digitally connected. We no longer need to be at a desk to access the online world, we are always just the push of a button away. This has changed perceptions of how we connect with each other personally and how we connect with businesses.
If there is a problem with a product or a delivery has not arrived, for example, we can access help via an online chat or via text or email. If we want to buy something, we don’t have to worry if it is 11.30pm on a Sunday, we can go online.
Connecting with the always-connected customer
Social media is an extension of this. We can share our issues, questions, opinions and experiences via social media to an audience that can be anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night. Twitter says that customer service interactions over Twitter have increased 250% in the past two years.
And these interactions via social media are one of the main ways that millennials, the generation that was born in the 1980s and 1990s, will contact organisations. According to research, some 5 out of 6 millennials will contact a company through social media.1
This anytime, anywhere contact means that organisations may have to reconsider how they interact with their customers as well.
In its white paper Roadmap for a Digital Transformation, Microsoft says: “We are no longer focused on ‘touch points’ during the marketing, sales and customer service process, but instead find a need to engage in meaningful, ongoing relationships that involve frequent online and real-world interactions.”
This need to engage via social media is backed up by the statistic that 71 percent of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others and will spend 21 percent more. And 70 percent of those helped via social customer service return as a customer in the future.2
Using social media can help you to provide a good customer service experience. Some 73% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. 3 Contacting your company via social media means that these customers are not on the end of a phoneline waiting for response. They can tweet or message and then get on. If there is a Tweet or Facebook message, whether a query, complaint or compliment, then you can respond asap.
And a speedy response will benefit your firm financially too. A Twitter poll in 2015 found that airline customers would be willing to pay $2.33 more for the same or enhanced service if a social response was provided in 67 minutes. They would pay $19.83 more if a response was provided within six minutes.
Ensure that you choose the right avenue of communication though. There needs to be an understanding of when to use public response messaging or private resolution.
Reach new audiences by turning followers into fans
But how can you use social media to create brand advocates? Of course, those customers who have had a positive experience will share this via social media with their friends. Microsoft has produced a video called Modern Workplace: The Strategic CMO, Marketing in a Digitally-Savvy World in which it describes how its Social Command Center works. Its employees scour social media for references to Microsoft products and respond to Tweets and comments. Each response is not only seen by the individual who first referenced Microsoft, but also by their followers, friends or page subscribers.
Microsoft then goes one step further. It has designers on hand to respond to an individual with a custom graphic developed out of the conversation or Tweet. Ninety-nine percent of the time this is retweeted by the receiver to an audience who are not followers of Microsoft or its products. The promotion of the product and the dissemination of the positive marketing material to a new audience is achieved via social media, and by the customer itself.
Many smaller companies or organisations will not have the capacity or budget to fund a Social Command Center. But having someone to check out the social channels and respond could bring big benefits for your brand and your profits.
1 Five Truths for Future Marketers. SDL research
2 Social Customer Service Infographic, Ambassador
3 The Future of Customer Service 2016, Forrester Research