Why Customers, Not Brands, Own Digital Media

In just over a decade, Facebook has gone from a student’s dorm-room project to a company with a net worth of $50 billion dollars. Not bad!

The staggering popularity of Facebook and other social networks is due in large part to the way they feed a basic human need for self-expression and community. These networks have been designed to give individuals a space where they can create an identity and connect with like-minded people. Originally, and for many years following its invention, social media had everything to do with people and nothing to do with brands.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have always belonged to the customer. Brands that want success in this space, whether with customer service or marketing, need to respect its inherent customer-centricity and provide ways and tools for customers to feel comfortable while they get in contact with their brands and vice versa. Doing so will lead to more loyalty and ultimately more sales.

How to enter the customer’s social space

Think about it: we call it “social” media, not “corporate” media. Social media, no matter how it has developed into the ad-revenue-based incarnation that we know and use today, was started as a way for people to communicate about themselves, their friends and the things they care about. In actuality, social media marketing and social customer service are interlopers in the social space of digital media.

That doesn’t mean brands should close their Twitter accounts. But it does necessitate a change of tone and a deliberate shift in approach to online customers. Social media isn’t a billboard, or a call center.

Brands have a responsibility to approach the customer on their own terms. To do so you have to know who each customer is. Luckily, social media itself provides a wealth of data about people’s personalities and preferences. Brands should use this data to make real connections with customers based on social rather than corporate communication. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use first names: The simplest way to personalize a conversation with a customer is to use their first name. If the agent is using a branded social media account, they should sign their own name as well.
  • Match the customer’s tone: It’s important for agents to be sensitive enough to gauge how a customer is feeling through their tone of voice, and to match it. If the customer is angry and standoffish, it’s best to adopt a more formal tone than if the customer is friendly and personal.
  • Send customers to the best agent: Knowing more about who each customer is means you can send them to the best agent for their needs. This can depend on their language, the subject of their query, their preferred channel, or even their personality.
  • Value real resolution and delight over speed: Personalized service should be results-driven, and should aim to delight the customer. Make sure the customer only has to state their problem once, then give the agent freedom to take time to see them through to a resolution.
  • Provide the type of service the customer wants: Every customer is different, so it’s important for agents to know about them and what kind of service they want, whether immediate and impersonal or in-depth, involved and intimate.

The benefits of being customer-centric

Delighting customers is a noble goal in itself, but it’s also connected directly to the bottom line. Personalized service that is transparent and results-driven leads to more customer loyalty. That means the brands that succeed are the brands that can connect to their customers in real, personalized ways on their terms and on their turf (social media).

Let’s take a look at the stats:

  • 87% of consumers who interact with a company daily feel loyal to that company
  • 25% of millennials say brand loyalty drives purchasing decisions
  • 70% of 18-24 year olds state that brands which fail to personalize their marketing will lose them as customers

And, just so it’s clear what’s at stake with customer loyalty:

  • 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers.

These numbers mean that customer loyalty is an imperative for brands looking to survive, not just to get ahead. And in the world of digital customer service, customer loyalty stems from a feeling of being connected with a brand. But we’re not only talking about online loyalty.

How loyalty translates offline

Customer loyalty that is built online also translates offline: 60% of customers prefer to shop at a retailer that connects with them on social media rather than one that does not. So the brands that do social media best will see a boost in sales in their brick and mortar shops, not just an increase in Twitter followers.

This is an important point about how social media blurs the borders between the “real world” and the online world. Many people these days hardly distinguish between the two. That means digital customer service isn’t some kind of virtual reality; it’s an outgrowth of the classic call center and it's a part of doing business, even though it requires new tools and customer-centric methods. Social media should be a core part of every company’s sales, marketing and customer service strategies in 2017 and beyond.

Brand Embassy is social customer service software that tells you more about each customer so you can serve them better across all digital channels, from Twitter to Facebook, live chat to LinkedIn. Presenting each customer service agent with the most useful data in the simplest form gives them what they need to make a real connection that’s tailored to the customer and the channel. And what’s more, every agent can easily serve customers on any channel, without being siloed into emails for example, and with virtually no retraining.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not, but you don’t have to trust us. Visit our website or sign up for a free trial to learn more.

 

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