In 2012, social media presented new challenges in delivering effective customer service. In 2013, the social customer will emerge as a true collaborator, and help you unlock the hidden value of your customer service.
As companies like GE have found, when your customer community grows, collaboration also grows between customers, partners and third parties alike. Key to GE’s success has been the implementation of Salesforce Chatter Communities. Unlike existing self-service online communities, this platform allows GE to bring together customers, partners, and internal resources to unlock a customer ecosystem with positive network effects.
Key Benefits of an online customer community:
Increased customer satisfaction and evangelism (+revenue)
Knowledge base increases product value (+revenue)
Fewer customer service interactions “call/email deflection” (-costs)
More “no contact” issue resolutions (-costs)
Crowd sourced and curated content for inbound marketing (+revenue)
Organic inbound links as part of your search engine optimisation strategy (+revenue)
Sounds great, let’s do it!
Before jumping in, ask yourself the following questions:
Would stakeholders be resistant to publicly sharing your product’s issues? If so, develop a plan to achieve buy-in and overcome concerns.
Is your customer community network a ‘matrix’ or evangelist ‘hubs’ with spokes? (A matrixed community is more likely to be self-sustaining).
Measure twice, cut once: Will you use cost deflection metrics? Net Promoter Score? Leads from community content? At the very least, collect the data to make these calculations from day one, even if the final metrics evolve over time.
With these pillars in place, you’ll have a solid foundation for success. You may even consider opening up the planning process for your social customer platform to existing customers and potential community members – since they will ultimately determine its success in the end.
Make sure to check out Salesforce’s Chatter Communities and share your favourite online customer service communities in the comments below. Who are the standout performers? Are there any ghost towns out there to learn from?
My better half bought me a shirt a few months ago from ThinkGeek with a slogan on the shirt that read: When in Doubt, Try Another Hole (Tongue in cheek geek humour). When a hole developed in the shirt after only two months, my instinct was to extract the last value from the situation by making a joke on Twitter given ThinkGeek was an online retailer based outside Australia. So I tweeted the irony..
To my surprise, 8 hours later I received a tweet from @Thinkgeek offering me a replacement shirt. Now I wasn’t angling for a free shirt, I didn’t even know @ThinkGeek was listening, butby contacting me (a slightly frustrated customer) in my medium of choice (I was venting on twitter) they effectively neutralised what could have been a serious venting of outrage by a customer and returned me firmly into the happy ThinkGeek supporter camp. I certainly won’t be badmouthing their products or service in the future, and if anything I have become a brand evangelist for ThinkGeek (As is indicative by this posts existence).
Moreover, given the rapid pace of social media, ThinkGeek understood the importance of acting promptly and from when I Dm’d @ThinkGeek with the orders details, to the time the replacement T-Shirt arrived, was no less than 72 Hours. Given that there was a weekend in the middle of that, and I’m in Australia, this is an amazing response to what was a relatively minor issue.
Thinkgeek gets social media and the importance of doing the little things right. Creating goodwill amongst your existing customer base is one of the best ways to create brand evangelists who will create positive sentiment ripples for your brand when using social media. Monitoring social media with tools such as Radian6 to pick up mentions of your brand in order to act fast on issues raised in social media is an essential part of creating a social media army willing to put their reputation and social capital behind your brand.
**Update** I’ve talked to @ThinkGeek and they have confirmed they use a combination of Google Alerts and Tweetdeck to monitor and track their social media presence. Social media monitoring doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, these tools are a great first step to managing your brand online.