Building consumer engagement the social way
Social networking has established itself as one of the fastest-growing and most used consumer communication channels, and that makes it a vital channel for building customer engagement, according to according to Keith Pearce, senior marketing director for Genesys-EMG.
In fact, recent research by Nielsen found that 22.7% of time spent on the web during the past year was spent on social networking web sites, compared to 15.8% the previous year.
Combined with the rise of an 'always on' mobile society, the Twitters and Facebooks of the world have quickly become invaluable customer service and even marketing tools, Pearce argues. "Not tapping into this channel will effectively leave retailers and other businesses missing out."
As a result, Pearce suggests four key business case points in favour of the adoption of social networking within the customer communications mix:
- Product research goes social Consumers are relying more than ever upon social networking sites to conduct their product research. Gone are the days when major search engines were the primary online shopping aid. Consumers have always been interested in what their families and friends are saying, and social networking sites make it easy to survey that collective feedback.
What this means for retailers is that not having a Facebook page and Twitter feed is the digital equivalent of not yet having a Yellow Pages listing.
- A customer service channel packed with potential With social networking rapidly becoming a de-facto component of the customer service mix, the question of adoption is not "if" but "when", warns Pearce.
There is mounting evidence that social networking represents a new communications platform that is perfectly suited to being an effective customer service channel. However, there may be only a limited window of time in which tapping into social networking's potential can provide businesses with a significant competitive advantage.
- Social customer service: to be or not to be? Companies now face a critical choice. They can either sit on the sidelines and watch their competitors take leadership roles on the social networking customer service front, or they can deploy applications, create Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, and establish a foundation to connect with customers via a medium that they appear to love.
- Customer engagement at its most prolific? According to Pearce, the business case is very simple. By bringing customer service environments together with Facebook and Twitter, retailers can give customers easier ways to contact them. Most customers don't carry phone numbers for the companies they do business with, and they're not likely to seek out those numbers when they're away from their computers.
But through social networks, consumers can connect directly to a company's Facebook page or Twitter feed from anywhere. By engaging customers where it's most convenient for them, the whole customer service experience is improved. "Retailers that ignore such an opportunity to connect with their customers so effortlessly will do so at their own peril," concluded Pearce.