Social media has become more than another brand marketing platform. For consumers, it has created a front door to directly communicate with organizations and seek support in a timely manner (usually in less than an hour), whether brands are prepared to do so or not.
About 67% of consumers have used a company's social media site for servicing, compared with just 33% for social marketing, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates. Nonetheless, we continue to see a significant gap between rising customer service expectations and what brands are providing.
It's clear that many brands have yet to grasp the importance of customer support on social media and what a critical part it plays in overall brand marketing. Maybe they’ve been lied to. Yes, some untruths about social care have spread through the social media grapevine. So let’s debunk the top three myths about social customer care and see how brands can best benefit from having a robust plan.
Lie No. 1: Social Care and Marketing Are Separate Things
Nothing could be further from the truth. More than ever, customers are leveraging their empowered voices to talk about brands, with or without their involvement, and that word of mouth has become increasingly important when it comes to purchasing decisions. In fact, 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends about products and services, according to market research firm Nielsen.
What customers are freely saying online about your brand is debatably more powerful and effective than expensive marketing tactics. Leading brands know this and are not only addressing customer concerns on social channels, but learning to integrate this content with their marketing plans to show transparency and stay connected to their consumers. They understand the direct results of delivering a great experience to the connected customer who will consequently spread a good word about their interaction.
So, it's crucial to recognize how big a part social care plays in the overall picture of brand marketing and customer loyalty. Whoever said, “Social care is the new marketing” wasn’t lying.
Lie No. 2: Social Care Strategy Is Only for Big Name Brands
Careful: This is a vicious and dangerous one. The reality is, smaller brands have an even bigger opportunity (dare I say, responsibility) to stay relevant and compete through creative customer care strategies on social. I would go as far as saying they should center their primary marketing campaigns around exceeding customer expectations, rather than delivering pretty ads about their products or services.
Excellent customer experience innately fosters a community of loyal customers who will gladly market your brand and positively influence others. Brands that integrate social care as part of their business goals are already reaping great benefits…and they are not necessarily the biggest names.
A good example of this is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, who launched their “Meet and Seat” program in 2010, letting passengers link and share their Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn accounts and select a seat matchmaking-style according to their profile. The program is going strong to this day and their customers continue to be delighted. Some are even seizing this initiative for personal business opportunities. Now that’s great customer service.
Learn more from Microsoft's Miri Rodriguez at The Social Shake-Up, which will be held May 22-24, 2017 in Atlanta. Brand communicators from Coca-Cola, Dunkin' Donuts, the Atlanta Hawks, Arby's and many more will speak on a breadth of topics from content marketing to measurement to Snapchat strategy.
Lie No. 3: We Don’t Have the Budget
The all-time biggest falsehood on why brands don’t have a dedicated social care team, Twitter handle and/or overall social customer service strategy: No budget. As Vice President Joe Biden once said, “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” That’s as real as it gets.
Companies that truly understand the importance of the customer experience on social are prioritizing it, redirecting and repurposing funds to these functions. The numbers don’t lie: Companies with a social care program experience a 7.5% year-over-year increase in customer retention—those without only see a change of 2.9%. Not having a budget for social care is a clear indication of your organization’s lack of understanding about how impactful this is to the bottom line.
Social gives us a great opportunity to increase customer loyalty and meet business goals by providing support when and where it's needed. But beyond that, it also allows us to creatively use this platform as a fresh way to attract and keep new audiences. So, you can cut down on creating costly new content and instead, leverage what customers are already saying for your campaigns. Create programs like #ShareACoke that gives the power of expression to people and watch your content calendar exponentially grow with genuine feedback from fans.
Let’s stop deceiving ourselves with unfounded fabrications about how costly or unnecessary it is to provide the social customer experience and start giving our customers what they expect and deserve by integrating it as part of our business goals and digital transformation journey. Customer loyalty and bottom line numbers won’t lie about that.
Miri Rodriguez is the senior social media and communities lead for Microsoft Americas, responsible for managing three social care teams responding to thousands of customer inquiries in Global English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Connect with Miri: @MiriRod