It's time to help customers while they are at online, not just where you think they are.
In our industry, there are a lot of lively conversations going on around engaging customers across social-media channels. That’s because a growing number of brands are diving deeper into understanding the social customer journey and the impact it has on customer service teams and customer engagement.
For many consumers, however, the journey doesn’t end on social-media channels; it extends to third-party review sites. Through May 2016, ConsumerAffairs.com has seen over 550,000 unique visitors to the site directly from social-media channels, resulting in dozens of reviews left by consumers trying to get their voices heard by the brands they buy from.
Customers typically begin their attempts to contact a customer service team through brand-owned properties, moving next to social media and then to review sites. This customer journey and the resulting increase in negative sentiment is a symptom of brands poorly monitoring feedback channels and/or lacking a cohesive strategy for handling feedback and resolving issues quickly when reported through social media. The result? An increase in negative sentiment scattered across multiple social-media and third-party consumer spaces, making engagement even more of a challenge—especially for smaller customer service teams.
To help keep customers engaged before they hit their boiling point, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Find out which channels you may be missing.
Conduct a discovery session to uncover channels that your customer service teams may be overlooking. Not all customer service channels are considered social, but that doesn’t mean they’re not community spaces where your audience could already be engaging. Many times, customer service and marketing teams find customers trying to reach out in every way possible, and review sites are often the last resort.
It’s easy to drop a brand name into a social-media monitoring platform and assume that it’s the best solution for finding consumers who are talking about a company. But many consumers actually reach out by using search engines and queries like “brand x reviews,” “brand x complaints” and “problems with brand x product,” and social media is not always the first place search engines point them to.
2. Look for engagement and feedback. Once your team has identified channels where you haven’t been interacting with customers, determine which ones will best facilitate engagement. This will allow you to collect and consolidate more customer feedback, which will help derive real value from the data collected. Balanced and authentic feedback across all channels means your team gets access to real insights capable of completely transforming your company’s reputation, products, customer experience and operational processes. As feedback helps your organization improve, it can also play a role in generating increased revenue. In addition, by proactively collecting customer feedback, you gain a more authentic picture of the customer experience and increase credibility among consumers.
3. Develop a strategy tailored to each channel’s unique mode of communication.
Social media is constantly evolving, and one platform’s conversational interface can differ significantly from another. For example, Twitter offers limited characters, and even direct messages used to require this format, but it has since changed to allow long-form direct messaging. Facebook now allows consumers to message brands through their company pages. Instagram allows direct messaging with a chat-style feature.
A recent survey conducted by The Economist and Marketo revealed that 86% of CMOs surveyed believe marketing will own customer experience by 2020. If your marketing team is not already aligned with customer service to better monitor and engage with customers, now is the time to make this alignment a reality.
4. Try to keep the customer engagement process in one channel.
Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than reaching out across multiple channels, finally reaching someone, and then being asked to jump to yet another channel (or multiple channels, in some cases) before getting an issue resolved. With so many social and review platforms offering a private mode of communication to engage in more conversation and share order and contact information, there’s no real reason to force a customer to keep jumping through hoops. Less friction means the customer issue will be resolved quickly and prevent customer churn.
5. Don’t leave review sites in the dust.
Socially engaged consumers are community-minded beyond social media, and review sites offer the same kind of social engagement and conversational space, just delivered in a different format. With nearly 90% of consumers using reviews to make purchasing decisions, this is not a customer service channel that should be ignored or neglected. Social-media channels have evolved to allow companies to better facilitate deeper customer conversations, and review sites have as well. They frequently offer free business accounts to allow brands to respond and resolve issues.
The time has come to truly streamline customer engagement across all customer service channels, from brand-owned to social media and review sites.