Billions of consumers worldwide are tapping into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks on a daily basis. Whether they’re sharing photos, commenting on friends’ pages or browsing through brand accounts, consumers see social networks as prime outlets to share and discover new things.
To engage with highly social shoppers in the omnichannel era, progressive retailers are looking to social customer service. More than half (67%) of businesses note that social customer service is growing in importance and is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centers in the U.S. and UK, according to a study from Forrester Research.
The study, titled: Social Customer Service: Dedicated Solutions vs. All-In-One Social Media Management Suites, was commissioned by Conversocial and delved into how social media is evolving from a marketing touch point to a comprehensive service outlet.
Many respondents indicated that social customer service was becoming a more paramount investment. However, customer service teams are not typically involved in the selection and implementation of solutions. Only 33% of the social customer service solutions being used were selected by the customer service team; the rest were implemented solely for marketing purposes.
Social media monitoring solutions can help businesses collect customer data, build brand awareness, as well as track mentions and subscriber/follower growth. Yet these solutions don’t allow service representatives to keep a real-time pulse on feedback and interact with customers to create a memorable and positive brand experience.
With social media, retailers have a “unique opportunity to interact with customers in the moment, which can have an impact on the sale,” noted Joshua March, Founder and CEO of Conversocial. Since consumers are using social networks more frequently as service channels, retailers need to properly manage communications and “integrate social across all other channels they’re interacting with customers through.”
For example, if a customer emails a service representative, but then moves the conversation to Twitter, “you don’t have to or want to reestablish the conversation,” March explained. “You want to see customer information, history and the email they sent last week to tie it all together.”
However, aggregating and integrating data across all channels remains a key challenge even for the largest retailers.
“There are so many different data points and it’s sometimes difficult to line it all up, especially if you have a lot of different systems,” March said. “But what’s exciting about social media is you’re communicating with people using these unique social IDs and they are completely linked to your identity. Even if you move or change phone number or address, you have this core social ID which you can use to log into web sites on your desktop, laptop or smartphone. The potential to tie up identities across all channels using social IDs is very exciting.”
The sheer amount and variety of data available on social networks can provide retailers with a wealth of information to improve their businesses. As a result, more senior executives are taking note of the public impact social media has, March explained. “They care about what issues customers are having and what people are talking about. They’re focusing on that data and it’s starting to be used across the entire business.”