Why social media is a crucial part of customer service strategies
Social media has completely reinvented the way that consumers can interact with brands, and social channels now play a fundamental role in helping businesses communicate with their customers, as well as respond to their queries.
In fact, it’s had such a huge influence that some of the biggest brands such as Tesco, McDonalds, Netflix, River Island and ASOS now have dedicated social channels to address customer service problems.
The open nature of social media means that customers’ complaints are publically visible – providing a much louder voice for customers than they’ve had before. When a customer takes to social media to vent, the comments expressed can often leave other customers with a whole new perception of a brand. We’re all too familiar with noticing a disgruntled customer taking to their social media accounts in a rage. Within minutes, more and more people begin adding to the post to also voice their bad experiences. Escalated situations like these can cause serious damage to a brand’s reputation, popularity and overall consumer trust.
While social media can pose dangers to a brand without an informed plan in place, when used strategically, social media is one of the most effective and beneficial customer service tools available. For customers, it is a quick and convenient means of expressing a concern or requesting information. For businesses, it provides a much more transparent approach to customer service and also enables teams to deal with simple enquiries, quickly.
With this in mind, it’s concerning when you consider data taken from Twitter, which shows that nearly 40 per cent of customer tweets never get a response from the company they contacted. The use of social media should be a customer service priority. Brands must better prepare their frontline staff to deal with a disgruntled customer on social media and, most importantly, do so before it escalates into a larger issue. Planning for, and setting a procedure in place will ensure companies have as much control as possible in handling the situation. So, how can this been achieved?
Getting to know your customers is a great start. Tools that give companies the ability to build individual profiles of each customer allow customer service teams to access a bank of knowledge for each customer’s previous experiences. Not only does this mean that customer service teams are then able to respond more efficiently, but it will also help ensure that a valuable conclusion is reached quickly.
With the right tools and procedures in place, a brand can use social media to their advantage and interact in an engaging way. Take ASOS for example, whose social media stream is filled with informal language that seems friendly and approachable. ASOS demonstrates a clear tone of voice when responding to customer queries in the public domain. Using this as an opportunity, the best brands will then use a customer’s complaint to both cross-sell and upsell. They can turn customers into brand evangelists through positive social media interactions. This creates a supportive independent voice in support of the brand that can ultimately lead to customer acquisition.
In a relatively short period of time, social media has changed the way we communicate and like it or not, it now plays a major role when communicating with consumers. It gives brands the ability to engage with consumers in real-time and has opened up two-way communications between consumers and brands on a large scale. For this reason, customer service teams must embrace using social media as a means of both active and reactive communication.
For all the benefits social media brings, brands must accept they are also losing an element of control to the consumer and therefore teams must generate a procedure that not only works to address disgruntled customers, but that proactively tries to attract new ones. Those that are able to adapt and maximise the impact that social channels have on their business, while maintaining a positive level of service on their other customer service platforms, will not only find their customers are happier, but that the business itself runs more efficiently.
By Henry Thompson, director of customer success, Zendesk
Read the August 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”