The Impact of Social Media on Customer Experience

Social media has marked the biggest disruption to customer service in the last 20 years. Until recently, customers were accustomed to simply calling, emailing or web-chatting their way to issue resolution, and mostly on the company's timeframe.  In 2016, the modern, mobile, socially connected customer is empowered to tweet, post, snap, tag and message their way to the front of the help queue, all while on hold with the call center and loading a webchat at the same time. 

Brands today must find ways to meet customers where they are on any digital channel and match growing expectations for instantaneous issue resolution, with the least possible burden of effort on the customer. But what about delighting customer expectations? Research suggests the long held belief that happy customers are loyal customers is likely a myth. CEB Global found brands' perceptions about exceeding customer expectations resulting in loyalty and the reality are vastly different. Instead, customers are looking for low-effort service experiences with quick resolution. New research suggests that customers who have high effort service experiences report being more disloyal and spending less than those who have low effort experiences. Conversely, customers who experience low effort service are 94% more likely to repurchase, only 9% disloyal and 1% likely to spread negative word of mouth.

The fact is even if you are hyper-focused on customer experience, but are making them jump through hoops to get help, you are at risk of losing that customer. If you aren't responding fast enough on social, if you can't solve your customer issue on the same channel they contacted you, and if your customer has to repeat themselves, your social customer service channel may be driving disloyalty.

So, how do you actually plan for an organization that can provide effortless social customer service at enterprise scale? To do that, you need to understand what customer expectations are for service in general.

Forrester Research shows that customers will buy from someone else if a company cannot provide quick and accurate information to them. Specifically, research shows these customers don't just abandon a purchase, but will intentionally buy from another brand. Another finding from Forrester is that most customers - more than 75% - rank valuing their time as the top factor in receiving good customer service.

This is important to remember when engaging customers on social, because unlike other channels that have been around for a long time, there are no explicit implied service level agreements with customers for how long they'll wait to get help. For some brands, responding within five minutes is a long time, but for others it might take as long as six hours - and that might be considered an unacceptable response time in certain industries.

A 2015 social media study comprised of 500 retail companies and 1,000 consumers showed that it took companies an average of 29 hours to respond to customer inquiries on their social media platforms, while customers who utilized this platform expected a response within four hours. Responses provided after the four hour expectation tainted customer perceptions of the company and brand. Customers are looking at their last best service experience from anywhere and comparing it to all others. From a customer's perspective, all experiences are either good or bad, regardless of the industry. It's important that on social channels, your customers get fast responses and are connecting with real customer care agents who can answer their questions and solve their problems. 

So, what elements are needed to operationalize low effort experiences that value customers' time and stack up to the best in class service brands of the world? The first thing to consider is creating a service process for social and then getting the right tools in place to allow you to rapidly respond to inquiries without the need to deflect to a different service channel to fully resolve issues. Once these factors are in place, your organization should remember these three do's and don'ts for effortless social care:

  1. Don't auto-respond with canned messages on social channels and make customers go to your preferred channels for help. Be prepared to provide first contact resolution on the channel your customers reached out to you on. 
  2. Do hire a skilled and knowledgeable social customer service team and trust them to deliver care in an unscripted environment. Call centers, like The Connection®, offer a full service social media team capable of monitoring your social channels and through the utilization of engagement guidelines, provide customer service for frequently asked questions. All other inquiries can be escalated to the appropriate personnel for immediate resolution. 
  3. Don't let policies and processes based off phone channels dictate how you provide digital service. For example, the average response time for phone calls may not be the appropriate response time for online channels. 

No matter what your social media needs may be, discussing monitoring and engagement strategies for your organization with an experienced Consultant may help develop the low effort service channels that can drive loyalty. Contact The Connection® for a conversation on how our social media Consultants or services may be of assistance to you.

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