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May 29, 2013
Bottom Line: Social Media is Essential for Brands
 
Brands look at Social Media from a distance. Sure, some closer than others. But as a rule they don’t consider SM a “part” of their organization.
 
Should they reconsider?
 
In a May 7 article Brian Solis talks about the February 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer. The report that found 46% of U.S. Internet users “stormed” branded social-media platforms to express frustration about poor experiences. Brian’s hyperbole aside, 46% is a big group of people. And a motivated group; if they were frustrated enough to take action, we can probably assume they were really frustrated.
 
But wait, there’s more. The Amex report states customers are increasingly telling people about their customer-service experiences. And they tell more people when their experience is bad.
 
Are companies listening? Several studies suggest the answer is no. A number of recently published reports show that more than 70% of customer-service complaints on SM were ignored. That’s a staggering number and one that may already be having an impact on how consumers view SM. Only one in five used SM as a vehicle to register a complaint about service. They seem to know it’s pointless.
 
Does anyone else see an opportunity here? If consumers think companies are paying less attention to good service, doesn’t that suggest investing in SM as a service channel makes sense for CRM-centric enterprises?
 
Well, yes, it does, despite the fact that only 20% of consumers are currently using SM as their complaint channel. If companies created a CRM program that communicated a new/renewed commitment to SM customer service, that number would likely grow. Certainly customers already predisposed to communicating through SM could quickly become advocates of this new approach.
 
Remember, more and more are talking online about the service they receive; that may be the overarching issue. So by turning customers into their customer-service “team,” companies can demonstrate a real understanding of the power of personal engagements via SM.
 
But is all that worth it? Won’t companies need to allocate resources to build this outreach effort? Won’t they need to consider the impact on staffing and budgeting?
 
Of course, but here’s why they should: Customers actually spend more money with companies that provide great service, according to Amex. And they are loyal; 75% spend more with a company that has historically provided a positive service experience.
 
Perhaps the model for SM-challenged companies is MasterCard. The Purchase, NY payment giant created a social “command center” with a team of four dedicated to monitoring social chatter (plus media influence) and collaborating with P.R., marketing, product, and customer-service teams. This “conversation suite” enables the organization to uncover real insights to better engage with stakeholders around the world.
 
MasterCard’s leadership and all these numbers should give pause to all those companies that have not embedded SM into their customer service programs. It can be and it should be considered a simple, direct channel to build positive relationships with customers and with prospects. The numbers are proof that it pays — literally — for a company to invest in a superior CRM program.
 
And that, my friends, is the bottom line. Literally.

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Robert Calvanico is Client Services Director for Living Group, a London-based integrated digital and branding agency. He leads the Living team's New York office. Robert has held management positions at agencies such as Euro RSCG, Cossette Post and Blue Fountain. He is a passionate sports fan and music lover, and lives in Tribeca, New York City.
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