Social media has revolutionized the way customers learn about the organizations they do business with. In fact customers are becoming more likely to trust the recommendations of strangers rather than brand adverts.
How often do you research a company online before making a purchase? I do it constantly and the proliferation of smartphones is only making this quest for pre-purchase information easier. This means that organizations are under increased pressure to deliver optimal service to each and every customer.
While businesses are recognizing the need to interact with their customers and prospects on social channels, according to Kymberlaine Banks, social media manager at Telvista, some don't know where to start. Speaking at Verint's Driving Innovation conference this week, Banks stressed that the first step in social media success is listening. "Listen first and act later," she said. She gave these tips for businesses to use social media effectively:
Start by listening: Banks stressed that the most important thing that organizations can do over social media is listen to their customers and prospects. "Listen for specific keywords and listen everywhere," she said. Organizations need to find out what conversations are taking place about them or their products.
Determine where to engage for maximum impact: The vastness of social media makes it difficult for organizations to engage everywhere, especially for companies which are still taking their first steps in the field. "You cannot moderate every forum where your products are mentioned," Banks said. Companies need to decide which channels they're using to engage with customers and prospects or which social media conversations they're going to prioritize, for example deciding to reply to service questions.
Find and engage the right talent: Banks stressed the importance of having the right people taking care of social media interactions. "In social media it's easy to make a mistake unless you're a quick thinker, a problem solver, and empowered to do what it takes to solve problems," she said.
Be sincere and transparent: Customers are likely to find out if you're hiding something from them or blatantly lying, and will tell the world. Thus, organizations need to be as truthful as possible in their communications.
Start small, measure, and refine: Banks recommends starting with a small scale strategy, measure successes, and make the necessary improvements before extending the project.
According to Banks, mastering social media will lead to returns for organizations. In fact, customers who engage in social media are likely to spend up to 40 percent more than other customers, making it essential to address their issues immediately. Additionally, customers can deflect expensive calls to their contact centers and reach multiple customers in a single communication, allowing them to focus more expensive resources on customers with issues that require a highly-trained team.