Social Media Improves Customer Experience
by Kate Enright
So what is it about social media that can make an impact on your sales figures? You hear the term, you know people use it, a lot, but what about its use in your industry? In your store? Well, for starters, the growth in social media usage has a lot to do with the rapid and extreme growth in the use of smart mobile technology over the past 3 years. The stats on mobile are undeniable. In 2011, there were 835 million smartphone users and 5.6 billion feature phone users, by 2015 there will be 7.4 billion smart devices in the market. And Mobile technology means that people are always available, always connected.
Your potential customers carry around their online profiles everywhere they go, and this is where you come in. You need to tap into this undervalued resource. You see, with their online identity, users can share data between sites to maintain relationships and stay up to date with the people they know and the things they care about. What you want them to care about is your store. You need to make it easy for them to share your details with the people that trust them. After all, according to a recent Nielsen study, you are 4 times more likely to but when referred by a friend as 65% of new business comes from referrals.
And where does social media come in in recommendations? A study done my Forrester Research as far back as 2010, found. People were making 500 billion influence impressions on one another about products and services every year. Let that sink in… Brands need to learn to tap into the social identity and integration frameworks that drive the mobile Internet. They must apply social thinking at every level of their businesses to successfully speak to and engage with mobile consumers.
So, what to do?:
1. Manage your channels
As social and mobile gain more and more ground, the importance of omni-channel solutions grows ten -fold. Customer experience depends on it, and this is why we need to find a way of integrating your social media, mobile, ecommerce site and physical space to ensure nothing is falling through the gaps.
As consumers no longer need to feel and touch to buy, you have a great opportunity there to grab them at different intervals e.g. If something you sell isn’t in stock, should a potential customer be expected to just leave and buy it somewhere else? Or go and buy it from another online retailer? Surely there should be a way for you to keep the sale by directing them to a means of in-store purchase and home delivery. You’ve made the sale, they’ve had a positive experience and everyone is happy! Social media can only help in this regard, either by posting a positive sale response via the platform or providing recommendations of further sale via “like” recommendations.
Tesco in the UK did a 2012 pilot of a screen at London’s Gatwick airport that allowed travellers to order everyday staples from their smartphones. Their order was then timed to coincide with their arrival at home. Ideal!
2. Choose the right platforms (social)
Social media strategies must start with the basic question of what platform should you use? What makes the most sense for your business? So make sure you choose the relevant platforms before any engagement begins and then work out what to say and how often to say it before commencing. Are you very visual? Is it a service? What style of voice do you want to use? What is the tone?
For fashion, furniture, food and interiors Pinterest has proven to be enormously beneficial. In other areas such as B2B software or services, LinkedIn is your guy. And Facebook is more often than not a must. So talk about it and think about it before jumping right into the social media game.
3. Monitor your channels and engage with your customers
Don’t forget to check out what people are saying about your business online. This stretches beyond social and into the wider web. There are many great and free brand monitoring applications that can help you to do this. It’s important to know what people think so that you can improve your service and they’re experience.
An even simpler step though, can make an enormous difference to your brand and that is engaging with people on social media. Replying to comments, posts and tweets shows people that you are listening. The more you do this the more people will bother engaging and therefore the larger your social reach! Easy right? Well the issue here is finding the time to monitor the accounts, it is worth ensuring you do but just be sure to manage your time well!
4. Capture and Use Big Data
Social media allows companies, if they take action, to capture a massive amount of data about their customers. This year will be a true test to whether organisations have what it takes to collate and use this “Big Data” in order to build their business by listening to consumers and improve their experience.
Marketers and business owners themselves can take this amazing opportunity to personalise the entire experience for consumers using their likes, preferences, comments, feedback and more. And beyond that, they predict consumer behaviour and refine and optimise the experience for customers’ desires. On an individual level you can even market directly to each customer by their unique preferences.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BIG DATA
5. Make it easy to connect, share and recommend
One of the biggest ways social has impacted on shopping is that it has blown-up the medium of word-of-mouth marketing. This is essentially a free way to market your business to the masses. The reach is never ending! Shoppers are becoming brand advocates by themselves. They share their favourite products, brands and services through social media, which opens up the level of engagement for brands that cultivate their social customer relationships. So cultivate them. Make it easy for customers to share your content in-store as well as online. This can be by in-store kiosks, free WiFi for sharing of images and updates, QR codes leading to images to be shared, the possibilities are endless here. Connect your brand, your site, your store to social. Provide them with fun, cool, engaging content and make that content easy to share.
This final message is from Social Media Today’s Alex Hisaka, it sums this post up so well we thought we would share her wise words:
“The future of social media offers many exciting, new opportunities for businesses to interact with their customers…. [It’s] paramount for your business to integrate social media into your overall customer service experience. When your business is focused on creating positive brand experiences, it can lead to insights that have an impact on all of your customers. And most importantly, it builds trust. Your customers will see that you have their best interest in mind, and that added value for your business.”