For businesses, social media is often regarded as part of marketing mix. Many companies and business owners use it to raise brand awareness, reach out to new customers, and sell more products.
But as we are about to enter 2018, the line between marketing and customer service has begun to blur to the point that the two are almost indistinguishable. With a new generation of customers who grew up with social media, it has become the new battlefield for customer service.
1. The World is Watching
In a survey in 2013, customer experience authority J.D. Power found that 67% of customers have used a company’s social media site for customer service, as opposed to just 33% for marketing. The majority of these are 18-29 year-olds who are active on social media, eager to spread the word about how Company A helped them with their problem, or how Company B dropped the ball and gave them the worst experience of their lives.
Indeed, Jay Baer noted in his book “Hug Your Haters” that social media has transformed customer service into a spectator sport where everybody can see the posts on people’s experiences with your company, and more importantly, how your company responds to them. In business, your reputation is everything, and in today’s world, there are few things that shape global perceptions more than social media.
2. Capture the Millennial Slice of the Market
The vast majority of people interacting with your social media pages are millennials. Microsoft’s survey revealed 64% of millennials believe that social media is an effective channel for customer service, up from 27% from the Baby Boomer generation.
In the American market, millennials have $200 billion in spending power as of 2017, and that’s only going to grow, up to a total lifetime value of $10 trillion. This is a huge opportunity that businesses can’t afford to ignore. Learning how to communicate with this segment is paramount, and the best way to do that is through social media.
3. Social Media is more Likely to Give you Good Results than Bad
This may seem counterintuitive, as we’ve all been witness to huge customer service fallouts and nightmares on social media. But the truth is that it’s simply the negative experiences that tend to stand out.
A study from Sprout Social reveals some interesting insights: while 73% of customers have had a bad experience with a brand on social media, only 25% will post negative things about the company. Only 30% will leave for a competitor, and that’s only if the company doesn’t respond.
On the other hand, 75% are likely to share a good experience on their profiles. The secret is to respond and use social media to connect with these customers.
4. Instantaneous Feedback
When JetBlue experienced a crisis back in 2007 with 1,000 flights cancelled in five days due to storms, the feedback on social media was staggering. Thousands of customers chimed in with their feelings on the crisis. Some were good, some were bad, but the most important takeaway was that it gave the company an instantaneous snapshot of how their customers were feeling. Marty St. George, the VP of JetBlue at the time, summed it up best:
“As a marketer, my response was, ‘This is like crack because I spent a lot of money and waited a long time to get feedback like this via traditional market research.’ I’m getting instantaneous feedback. To me, that was the power of it.”
Knowing your customer is one of the most important components of marketing, and social media empowers companies in unexpected ways, giving you instant feedback from your customers. This also provides you the opportunity to connect with your customers in real time, the value of which should not be underestimated.
As we head into 2018, it is extremely important to recognize that social media is a necessity rather than an option in today’s world. That holds true for contact centers looking to provide the best customer service experience.