Social butterfly. Best mate. Two peas in a pod. Life of the party. We are social creatures. We feel a need for connection from birth and it continues as we grow up. Being part of something—a family, a group of friends, on a team—is important. Social media delivers both a connection and being part of something larger than ourselves…and it is growing in importance in our lives.
Social media, when you think about it, is remarkable. The sheer number of people who use social media is amazing—nearly 174 million people in the U.S. in 2014. That number is expected to exceed 200 million in 2019. Anyone can go online and find a community of like-minded people—the modern equivalent of your historical tribe.
And where people go, brands go. Increasing numbers of people are contacting brands via social media with questions, concerns or to share feedback. Phone is still the channel the majority of consumers use to contact brands, but social media is quickly catching up as more brands begin to offer customer service assistance on these channels.
Social Customer Care Today
So which customers prefer social customer care over traditional phone and email customer care? It’s a moving target. Driven by the ubiquity of smart phones, consumers of all ages are discovering and liking the speed, ease of use and value of social customer care. And the percentage of customers contacting brands via social media is growing every year.
LiveOps Research has found that 50 percent of Gen X and 71 percent of Gen Y customers have used social and mobile channels to communicate with a brand recently. Nielsen has found that 33 percent of users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone. That’s one-third of consumers, and that number will continue to grow each year. And Forrester found that 70 percent of customers prefer to use a brand’s website to find answers instead of calling. For the first time, the phone channel has been unseated from the top spot by web self-service.
Social Customer Care Raises the Stakes
What does all of this research and all of these statistics mean for brands providing social customer care? There are a lot of instructive points in here. The first and most basic: brands must have a social presence. Brands must have a team dedicated to social engagement and actually engage with customers in a two-way conversation. LiveOps Research shows that 85 percent of consumers feel that the way a brand handles issues on their website or social channels is a good indicator of their customer satisfaction and the quality of their support.
Get involved and interact quickly with customers. Customers expect a much faster response on social media and want their issue to be resolved with the first contact. That means brands must empower their customer care agents to do what’s necessary for customer satisfaction. LiveOps has a formula for customer success that says “Better Agent Experience (BAX) = Better Customer Experience (BCX) = Better Customer Lifetime Value (BCLTV)™.” Keep those agents happy to keep your customers happy.
Forrester has found that 71 percent of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a brand can do to provide good service—so do it! The payoff can be huge in terms of repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.
Brands must be aware that the stakes are higher with social customer care. Social customer care means interactions are public, period. And research shows that’s a good thing, that customers with positive social customer care experiences will recommend a brand.
The benefits to brands of providing social customer care are clear—and the risks of not providing social customer care are just as clear. Make sure your brand is prepared and providing social customer care to all interested audiences today or in the near future. And try to have some fun with it…that fun comes through to customers and influences opinions. Be social and prosper!
To read more on this topic please see my article entitled “Social Care of All” on ICMI.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.