Digital 360
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Digital 360

The Social Customer Experience: Marketer Insights for 2020

The customer is always right.

This well-known motto, popularized by pioneering and successful retailers such as Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker, and Marshall Field, has been used for over a century and can be seen as the kickstart of customer experience.

Over the years, customer experience evolved, as new products and technology were introduced. New tools and strategies created new approaches to the seller-customer relationship — but nothing has changed it more than social media.

Social media changed the conversation thanks to a more democratic approach, putting the power back in the hands of the customer. Nowadays, both brands and customers have a voice that can be used to share experiences — may they be good or bad.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett

Social media platforms now pose as an important channel for customer experience, since many customers use these platforms as a medium to express their feedback. Hence, social media customer experience — an extension of your consumer experience management (CEM).

CEM refers to the various processes you use to oversee your customer engagements and manage their relationship with your business. This can be done in several ways, including brand social media profiles.

As in many other forms of brand-customer communication and engagement, businesses should prioritize transparency and honesty to build lasting relationships with customers.

But social customer experience also changes the strategy of how brands communicate. So how do you begin to foster this relationship and manage the impact of social media on customer experience?

The Social Customer Experience

It all comes to understand how customers feel about customer care on social media. We’ve compiled five key social customer experience statistics of — from consumer behavior to customer expectations — so marketers can better understand current patterns and trends.

customer

1. INTERACTION BUILDS TRUST

39% of customers only trust brands if they have interacted with them on social platforms.

The social media dynamic is highly focused on interaction. People interact with each other but they also do it with brands — and expect them to answer back. Take time to engage with your customers and communities to create deeper relationships, based on emotion.

Humanizing a brand and its customer experience is essential to break the “screen barrier” and show the customer there’s a human connection.

Now more than ever, in the wake of COVID-19, it’s a time to humanize commercial messages as overall brand positioning. Don’t be afraid to reach out and always treat each customer with a personalized approach.

Buffer highlights some quick and authentic ways to engage with your social media followers:

  • Ask your fans questions for them to give opinions on the subject;
  • Use interactive formats like GIF’s, images or video on your responses;
  • Use emojis;
  • Schedule time to engage.

According to Salesforce, 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. But how personal should you get?

“Using the right tone with customers is not a ‘set it and forget it’ model. You have to do almost continuous daily coaching and training. You have to keep monitoring. We strive to make it look real-time, but we’re really doing a ton of research in the back” — Bianca Buckridee, vice president of social media operations for JPMorgan Chase.

2. NO CALLS PLEASE

1 in 3 social media users prefers social media customer care services to telephone or email.

63% of customers expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, and 90% of social media users have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand or business.

According to data, 34.5% of customers prefer social media and 24.7% prefer live chat. Additionally, 31% of customers use social media to make pre-sale inquiries before purchase or commitment.

Remember the modern customer lives in a fast-paced environment where social media platforms offer a quick way to interact without interrupting the flow of work and personal life. As a brand, you should offer a fast, simple, and non-intrusive communication channel that gives your customer a sense of ease and usefulness.

As the report “Anchoring Customer Experience In The Social Experience” report by Harvard Business Review, states:

“In a digital age, customer journeys are rarely linear. The days of moving customers progressively from awareness to purchase and repurchase are quickly coming to an end. As social media and mobile devices come to dominate how customers acquire and share information about a brand, customer buying processes are increasingly made up of erratic “micro-moments”.

Google first coined the term back in 2015 to refer to “intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped” and researchers found, among other things, that nearly 70 percent of leisure travelers with smartphones explore travel ideas while standing in line or waiting for the subway. More than 90 percent of smartphone users look up information while they are in the middle of another task. More than 80 percent use their phones while in stores to decide what products to purchase.

3. MORE ENGAGEMENT, MORE MONEY

Customers spend 20–40% more with companies that engage and respond to customers via social media.

Building better relationships with your customers through social support can add up to huge wins when it comes to increasing customer lifetime value.

Bain also states that customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers. They also demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to these companies.

Showing that your brand pays attention to its followers and interacts with them can go a long way in terms of building positive relationships with customers.

Remember when we said interactions build trust? They also build profit.

4. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media. While 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours, according to SproutSocial.

As we’ve said previously, brands will be dealing with customers that simply don’t have time to wait. The always-on society changed the concept of time and working hours don’t apply anymore to social media when the goal is getting feedback from a brand.

As a marketer or social media manager, you should keep in mind that your brand needs to be always online and always ready. To facilitate this, remember to schedule engagement time slots and also consider expanding your workforce with a part-time team member that works nights and weekends.

The data gathered by SproutSocial shows average brand response rates by industry reveal that legal and real estate businesses have the highest average response rate (29%) while sports have the lowest (7%).

customer
Image source: SproutSocial

These statistics show that it’s not only the response that matters but also it is timing. Take too long and you can lose a potential customer: recent research from Gartner notes that customers are significantly more likely to stick with a brand long-term when their service expectations are met.

The truth is that simply answering a social media complaint can increase customer advocacy by 25%, and brand loyalty by a whopping 65%.

“A year ago, when [consumers] got a social media response from a brand on a customer care issue, they were pleasantly surprised. We’re getting to the point now that if companies don’t respond, they will have a black mark against them.” — Dennis Stoutenburgh, co-founder of Stratus Contact Solutions.

The Power of Word of Mouth

71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family (Lyfemarketing, 2018).

This kind of word of mouth is highly powerful. According to Nielsen, over 90% of consumers trust family and friends’ suggestions more than advertising.

Besides making sure every customer has a positive experience with your brand — either via engagement, quick feedback, or personalized customer support via social media — you can also explore some alternatives to gain customer feedback.

Since likes don’t always necessarily mean a positive relationship with the brand, you can also try to drive your audience to the comment section by including language like, “Let us know what your favorite new feature is in the comments below” or “How has our new [product name] helped you?”.

This kind of strategy has multiple benefits: the brand gets positive feedback via comments (that will be read by other users) and social media managers and marketers can gather customer reviews that can be used in other channels — think website, email or even social media posts (make sure to ask for permission first!).

6. Customer Service on Social Media

63% of customers expect companies to offer customer service on social media.

Social media shouldn’t be viewed as a mere channel for marketing or public relations or as simply an effective customer service tool. Not only users expect this kind of support on social media platforms, but they also want it to be tailored and consistent.

According to recent Sprout Index data, 44% of consumers say customer service distinguishes a brand from its peers, and 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business.

The need for more effective customer interactions and closer customer relationships will only grow stronger as more users (beyond digital natives) adopt social media to communicate with their favorite brands.

Community management and customer service on social media are two essential tools for brands and businesses. As these platforms keep gaining popularity and new features, social media managers and marketers should focus their efforts on adding both to digital marketing strategies and plans.

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