Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 | 8 min read
When global tobacco company Philip Morris International Management SA (PMI) launched its new tech-based smoking device, customers had questions.
They didn’t just reach out via phones and email. They overwhelmed PMI with social media inquiries.
“We noticed a pattern of care-related issues through social media and we wanted to proactively address that,” said Kleigh Heather, a director in PMI’s Digital Lab. “We decided to leverage social as a mechanism for detecting, triaging, and resolving customer care issues.”
PMI launched a whole new process for customer care wherein they’d proactively collect social mentions and respond in near-real time. As a result, PMI’s care team resolved cases in an average of just 11 minutes.
They know what many brands are still learning: Social media is the new frontier of customer care. More than ever, consumers are using social to interact with brands and if companies want to survive, they need to engage with audiences across digital channels.
Here are five stats – and examples – to prove it.
Customers are growing tired of waiting on phone lines or going days before receiving a support email. In search of quick and easy communication, they’re turning to social platforms where they’re used to seamless communication with friends, family, and – increasingly – brands.
Consider Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest provider of wireless communications services. The company wanted to improve customer satisfaction and realized it needed to use Facebook to do make it happen.
“Over 17 million Canadians are on Facebook every day, so we wanted to go where our customers are,” said Deepak Khandelwal, chief customer officer of Rogers Communications.
The company used Facebook Messenger to reach customers where they’re already spending time. By simply initiating a chat, they can pay bills, check their accounts, and speak with a representative right from the social channel.
Just months after launching on Messenger, Rogers Communications spurred a 65% increase in customer satisfaction, a 65% decrease in customer complaints, and saw 70% of social customer support requests come through Messenger.
“Weaving all of Facebook’s tools together has helped us introduce different ways to offer service and support, but it’s also helped us build a stronger relationship with our customers,” Khandelwal said. “We’re now bringing them the best self-service in the world.”
If your customers are active on multiple social channels, you should be, too. This way they know how to reach you and you can build comprehensive customer profiles by learning from their conversations across platforms.
That’s why Zappos responds to customers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In fact, customer care isn’t just baked into the brand’s social strategy; it’s fundamental to its entire brand strategy. As the Zappos Twitter bio states, “Zappos is our name and service is our game!”
On Twitter, representatives vigilantly respond to incoming messages both positive and negative. And if anyone comes around looking for a product, representatives step in, ready to act as personal shopping assistants.
So sorry Alvin am not sure who the designer of this shoe is, but here is a link to the closest women's black patent wingtip we currently have on our site, but it's a bit different style – https://t.co/TAVb485hmT *KL
— Zappos.com (@Zappos) August 4, 2018
They even respond to customers on Instagram, embracing every opportunity to connect with buyers and improve their experience:
A post shared by Zappos (@zappos) on
This is a part of a larger initiative to provide superior customer service, in part to differentiate Zappos from its main competitor, Amazon. The Zappos onsite contact center includes a daily count of customer inquiries, average response time, and even gifts that grateful customers sent.
“I don’t think the difference [between the appeal of Zappos and the Amazon brand] is in the UI [the website user interface],” said Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. “It’s in how we build a personal connection.”
This stat is according to a Twitter study, which found that pizza delivery brands and telco companies saw the highest increase in revenue potential per transaction:
Let’s look at Domino’s. The pizza giant has an #EasyOrder program that lets customers place an order with just a tweet and a pizza emoji. And the company respond to all customer inquiries on Twitter in a timely manner, making social a go-to channel for buyers:
The GF Crust Pizza is now available for redemption! When you reach the point of redemption, enter the coupon code GFCRUST in the coupons section. This coupon code will redeem your 60 points for a free 2-topping Gluten-Free Crust Pizza! *KB
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) August 6, 2018
Twitter also noted that brands shouldn’t be afraid of negative tweets. In fact, responding to negative tweets can yield positive impacts: 69% of people who posted a negative tweet felt more favorably about the brand when they responded to their concern; telco customers in particular had a 3x higher willingness to pay more for their monthly wireless plans.
It’s easy to see why customers prefer social media over phone and email. Social often provides a faster and more direct line to a brand, whereas they can wait on hold for hours if they call a 1-800 support number. That’s helps explain why 32% of US internet users say phone is the most frustrating customer service channel, while only 6% say the same for Twitter and 5% for Facebook.
While it’s common for customers to reach brands on social and specifically complain about the wait time via phone or email, this doesn’t mean brands should abandon their call centers. Rather, they should better integrate customer care channels into one cohesive operation so that no matter how a customer reaches your brand, each representative has all of the information they need to provide the most valuable assistance.
Social care isn’t just faster and less frustrating than call centers; it’s also less expensive. And if brands want to respond to a wide range of customer inquiries at scale, they can’t afford to turn their backs on social care.
That’s why Microsoft USA created a Social Command Center, which pulls in 150 million social conversations each year. AI technology then filters those conversations, deletes irrelevant mentions, and funnels the rest to a care team who responds to each message personally.
Product ideas and suggestions are also sent to development teams to inform their updates. Once those updates are made, the customers are notified and then can share the updates that they helped create. This allows customers to play an integral role across marketing and product development processes – and allows the brand to conduct social listening and response at scale.
Here’s one last stat for you: Failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers. This underscores the fact that social care shouldn’t be a small addendum that representatives add to their daily checklists; it must become an integral piece of an organization’s care operation.
The good news is that social is still considered a new frontier of customer care. As the brands above show, companies of all industries have an opportunity to populate this unchartered territory, outshine competitors, and deliver superior customer experiences across channels.
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