Social Customer Care: You’re In or You’re Out

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A report from the Aberdeen Group shows that companies have figured out that when it comes to social customer care, consumers are in the driver’s seat. Whether your organization is satisfying customers or not, consumers are not remaining silent.

Aberdeen surveyed 289 firms between March and June of this year about their social customer care programs. The research showed that social customer care program adoption increased roughly fivefold between 2010 and 2013 (12 percent in 2010 compared to 59 percent in 2013). Additionally, 70 percent of companies said they planned to employ social media as part of their customer service program by mid-2014. Research also showed that social customer care contributed to a 17.6 percent year-over-year increase in customer satisfaction rates to help retain 89 percent of customers each year.

Omer Minkara, the senior research analyst leading contact center and customer experience management research within Aberdeen Group, and author of the report, spoke with about his findings.

Q: What was the motivation for this report?

A: You see the trend of customer empowerment becoming more and more of a reality for many businesses. The second a customer hangs up the phone, companies can no longer hide. [The experience] can become immediately available on social media, such as Facebook [or] Twitter. Today people can even post pictures of a bad experience. So as such, you see social [media] really changing the name of the game.

Q: What were your findings as far as social [media] and customer retention?

A: What we see in terms of companies adopting social customer care is that companies tend to follow a more proactive customer engagement strategy; as customers are more vocal regarding their needs across different channels, they are sharing their experiences with their peers and colleagues. Once companies can tap into that sort of information, they can have a much deeper insight about what customers need, when they need, how they need, and where they need. You can personalize your outreach to those customers, whether it is sales conversations or service interactions, and use that data that was collected through social channels to launch precision customer targeting campaigns. Once you personalize or cater to the specific needs of each customer, they’re more likely to stay on as loyal buyers of your business.

Q: How does this play into a multichannel strategy?

A: Customer behavior is not confined to just one channel. The journey might start out on social [media]; for example, I see an advertisement on my Facebook timeline. If I click on it, it takes me to the company Web site. Then I might want to get some more information and might want to call into the call center to speak with a representative, or I might want to download a mobile app. It’s cross-channel or omnichannel behavior that takes place where social [customer care] is a key component.

Q: What is one of the most compelling reasons for an organization to adopt a social media strategy?   

A: First, you need to understand if a channel is the right one for the business. Just because every company out there uses social media, it doesn’t mean that every business should be doing the same thing. You need to understand which channels customers prefer, and if social happens to be one of them, then you should focus on it through best practices. But it could be a recipe for failure if you just go into it assuming that it will work without a carefully crafted strategy. It could cost more [and provide] minimal returns if it’s not the right channel.

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