Today, social media is such a big part of life that it is hard to imagine a world without it. However, it has only been around for a relatively short period of time. By the year 2000, the internet had a substantial number of users and people started to enjoy being socially connected online. Social media emerged as way to connect with long lost friends and family, but not many envisioned what it would grow into. Businesses started using social media as a platform to introduce and market new products and to increase sales. However, considering the number of customer interactions (both company-customer and customer-customer interactions), that happen on social media on a daily basis, it needs to be acknowledged as a business phenomenon. While current customers use social media to talk about their experience with the products or services they use, or to communicate with the company; prospective customers use it to research the products they intend to buy.
Customers often choose to interact with other customers, so they get to hear first hand experiences, about the product and the company. When they interact with the company, they expect fast responses. Companies need to check their social media accounts frequently to ensure that all queries or comments have been answered. Companies no longer have complete control regarding the information that is available to customers. Social media provides customers the opportunity to talk freely about the product or the company. All that the companies can do to ensure good reviews, is to provide a great customer experience. Customer-customer interactions provide companies with an array of possibilities. They can learn from these conversations and use them to promote sales, improve customer loyalty, improve customer service, and develop better products based on the feedback provided and so on.
The company could interact with customers either through a customer forum on the company website or using external social media options like Facebook or twitter. Customers need to be treated with respect. Building a relationship with customers through social media will help better the customer experience. Prompt replies, thanking customers for comments and feedback and thanking them for purchases are a few ways to ensure that customers feel appreciated. Making proper use of social media can not only bring about a vast improvement in customer experience but also create brand loyal customers. It is up to the companies to make maximum use of the possibilities that Social media offers.
Implementing a Social Media strategy.
It is important that companies have a strong customer engagement strategy on social media. The following are a few points to be taken into consideration while implementing a social media strategy.
- Determine the objective
Implementing a social media strategy is no small task. It not only involves looking into the organisation to establish usage policies and best practices, but it also involves determining the best degree of engagement. It is important for organizations to have a clear idea about why they want to have a social media presence and what they hope to achieve from. However, Companies need to understand that there will be risks that have not been anticipated. There are several scenarios where a customer community or forum could create a negative impact on the business. Customers could start posting negative comments and reviews and that would almost definitely affect prospective customers. Providing a great customer experience and making customers feel important would help here.
- Determine who takes ownership
A lot of departments might be involved in here, for instance, marketing team needs to ensure that is there plenty of interesting content on the website to engage customers, else they will lose interest fast. Whereas, IT needs to ensure they create the perfect tech support content to make customers who are used to making calls for tech support, feel comfortable. However, there needs to be clarity on who takes ownership. In deciding the department to be held accountable, the size of the organization and the corporate culture needs to be taken into account.
- Educate employees.
Employee’s level of interest and knowledge needs to be taken into account while implementing the social media strategy. Employees need to be trained on how to respond to people who reach out through social media channels.
Companies should make use of social media to understand perceptions and latest trends in customer engagement. Customer expectations need to be met consistently. The company should try to connect with the customer on an emotional level and make them know that they are valued. The customer should want to recommend the company to his friends and family. Achieving this would signify the success of the way the company manages customer experience.