« Confirmation messages: a nice touch and a good example |
| Webcast on Creativity: Finding Aha moments »
A really good question was posed on the Focus Network about where social media and customer loyalty is headed.
“What's the role of social marketing in customer loyalty today? What about a year from now?”
Permit me a short anecdote first:
This week I experienced problems with my e-mail and Blackberry synching. I use a hosted exchange service, and went to their web site to see if there was a notice about a system outage (there wasn't, or at least not where I was looking). After wasting a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on, including being abandoned by their chat support, i finally searched the company on Twitter. There I saw any number of people grumbling about the server outages. The company was not responding very rapidly to the Twitter talk, and chose not to engage with any of the individuals who posted about problems. They posted about once a day, saying they were working hard to fix the problem. I noticed that others who were irritated were posting links to review sites where they had newly created negative reviews about the company's service.
This kind of behavior is surprising in 2011, but it will be toxic in 2012.
Service problems are one of the opportunities that any organization has to demonstrate that they put some commitment behind their brand promise, whether that promise is appliances that work, friendly flight attendants, or excellent hosted server support. Every business needs a strategy to respond to customer issues and problems expressed in social media as part of their loyalty strategy.
The larger the business, the more rapidly an issue can escalate -- remember the Domino's pizza YouTube debacle way back in 2009? Domino's had done nothing -- it was two employees -- but they nevertheless experienced damage to their brand and their business.
The communications environment is now a social environment. Thinking about social media as somehow "different" is no longer a productive point of view, because it is completely pervasive. Even your print campaign has a QR code in it, which is likely linked to a site offering social possibilities of some kind. Hotels have QR codes on their front doors with "Like" stickers. So the physical environment has become a virtual link as well, and we will see many more examples of this.
One critical first step for organizations: Ensure you can respond quickly and effectively to problems that arise where your customers are communicating about problems in social media channels (Twitter, Google+, wherever). Implicit in this is needing a real-time monitoring strategy which usually involves putting a listening platform in place (e.g. Conversition, Radian6, etc.)
In the future, social media efforts in larger organizations are going to become much more mainstream in terms of media planning and measurement. They won't be in a cubbyhole by themselves in the leading organizations, they will be part of integrated brand and customer communications.
Opting out isn't an option, because it will create negative impressions. When you see a business with no website today -- even a small business, like an upholstery shop, you form an immediate impression of them as somewhat backwards. A major enterprise with a poor presence on major social media platforms will soon communicate that they are behind the times.
We are so used to communicating through multiple channels, that I do think customers will start to wonder why they can't communicate with their bank or telecomm carrier this way. So the call centre of the future is likely going to have to figure out strategies for other kinds of channels, not just telephone, e-mail and chat on the company's web site. It might be chat via Facebook, for example.
I don't see the complexity of the environment diminishing at all. There will be more options, as well as greater risks. But also, greater potential rewards for those that choose to invest in experimenting and learning. It's still the frontier, and the patterns of behavior are shifting rapidly.
If you want to follow the thread on Focus, click here.
Susan Abbott in Loyalty, Talking to Customers, Trendwatching | Permalink