Social Customer Care is the foundation of great customer relationships. It refers to conversations with customers on social media channels at all stages of the purchase journey, including pre-purchase, purchase and post purchase. Different to social customer service (which predominantly concentrates on post sale support) and is re-active, social customer care aims to be pro-active in its support of customers. Here are some examples:
So why has Social Customer Care become so important?
Consumers now expect to interact with brands on their terms. With the rise of tech giants such as Uber, AirBnb and Grab has come an increased expectation from consumers that brands should be a fingertip away, ready to serve and deliver immediately with almost clairvoyant insight into the issue at hand. So why this shift in consumer expectations?
‘Newer’ companies, particularly in the digital space, see social customer care as critical to their strategy of delivering an excellent customer experience and as such spend significant amounts of their marketing budget on capabilities in this area. With the bar being risen, brands now see customer experience and customer care as a key way to differentiate themselves from their competition and companies who ignore offering this level of service risk being left behind.
So how do you deliver next generation customer care in the digital era?
Firstly, you cannot deliver excellent customer care if you are not where your customers are and your customers are all online and on social media. This is where they talk about your brand and where they air their complaints on your product or service. This is not a trend that will disappear either, it is here to stay and should be considered the new norm for customer service. This is highlighted by the SmartInsights report on social media penetration;
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp are the new battlefields for brands to show they are leading the pack in terms of caring for their customers and creating leading customer experiences. Not only are existing customers using the social space to get product/service support or (hopefully not!) complain about your brand, but prospects also look here to research pre-purchase. This makes it all the more important to provide exceptional social care at all stages of the purchase funnel to ensure existing customers are satisfied and repeat purchase and prospect have a good first impression of your brand
Taking social customer care seriously requires some level of investment, most importantly in software. Attempting to reduce response times or meeting challenging SLAs through managing each social channel in isolation is near impossible. Consequently this will likely result in customer queries slipping through the cracks, inefficient information to deal with customer demands and ultimately unhappy and frustrated customers.
The Role Of Messaging
Also important are the channels you utilize within your customer care program, particularly with the disruptive trend of social messaging. Channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are great tools to converse with your customers in a relevant, timely manner and importantly at their leisure. Gone are the days of using traditional telephony methods to communicate with customers, now are the days of ‘conversational customer care’ using channels that the customer wants and chooses.
Considering customer experience (and within it social customer care) as a serious avenue for growth and competitive advantage is not new and can lead to serious ROI. Look no further than Mckinsey’s research on customer journeys which found that companies that invested in managing customer experience and the entire customer journey saw increased performance in customer satisfaction, reduced churn and importantly increased revenue. Not only should companies consider customer experience as a competitive differentiator, they should place it right at the top of their overall strategy. If not, their customers will move to competitors who consider customer well-being and care a priority. And with more and more companies aiming to complete mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience, as found Gartner’s Customer Experience in Marketing Survey, it is a concept that can no longer be ignored.