The world of social has always been a two-way communication channel. Facebook and Twitter are growing as platforms where users discuss and discover new brands and products. The conversations taking place on social media are influencing purchasing decisions. A positive tweet or Like carries a lot of weight today and many brands are realizing that.
How exactly is social impacting a customer's purchase journey? And how can brands move with the customer pace to influence these purchase decisions?
As customers embrace social technologies in masses, they are getting comfortable interacting and sharing on these platforms. It is no wonder that their expectations on how we work and live are also taking a social twist. More and more customers expect that companies they buy from are on social as well. They want to engage with their favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter just like they do with their friends and family.
Brands are being forced into adopting more human and social personas. They are hiring social media managers and content strategists to help them adopt that social look in order to truly connect and build a loyal following. Successful brands are already doing amazing things on social. The ROI of social is becoming quantifiable and measurable as we become more adept at using it for business.
The need to engage with brands as humans is important in order to establish and build relationships. Only by establishing these relationships can a brand truly reap the benefits of going social.
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These statistics paint a very clear picture of just how smart customers have gotten before they make a purchase.
Recommendations on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are particularly influential. A brand's online reputation has become a major factor in a customer's decision to visit or buy from the brand. However, its not just what customers are posting, but also how brands are responding. There is more demand for transparency and brands that are proceeding carefully, honestly, and frequently are slowly winning the online customer journey war.
There is no doubt that social media is driving the sharing of customer service experiences. According to Zendesk, the customer support software, 45% of customers share bad customer service experiences while only 30% share good experiences via social media. The statistics go further to show that up to 69% of social media users have read positive customer service reviews while 63% have read negative reviews.
Customer service experiences have a profound impact on future purchases. Social media seems to have amplified this effect as such experiences are widely shared with friends, colleagues, and the general public.
According to research conducted by Dimensional Research on the long-term impact of customer service on business results, it was found that the majority of the participants ranked excellent customer service top among the factors that impact their level of trust in the companies they buy from. Second on the list were offers for best price, and down on the list was the company's financial stability.
In order to accelerate your support and provide exceptional problem resolution for your customers, it is important to understand what they need and where they need it.
Social media is becoming a first contact point to surface problems. With only 140 characters, a customer is likely to surface an issue that they may not bring to your attention while on phone. Many brands are already monitoring social for brand mentions and trying to resolve those issues where they first emerge.
Most customers are well aware that a grievance on phone or email is private and will not get the attention it deserves. As a result, many will post their concern, anger, or frustration on Twitter and tag it with the brand in question. When the issue goes public, it becomes a public relations problem that needs to be resolved quickly. If your brand is not monitoring social for such issues, and if they don't have the necessary customer support skills, your company reputation may be getting damaged without your knowledge.
Consumers are setting the pace when it comes to social conversations. Their current usage of social media is influencing the ideal corporate behavior on social media platforms. Brands that continue to ignore the signs and trends risk losing out in the future while those actively engaged stand a higher chance of coming off as more caring and promising.
How you respond to customer queries have a very real effect on your bottom line moving forward.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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