Social media has developed into a mainstream communications channel, which has given rise to today’s empowered consumer. The business to consumer paradigm has forever shifted and it has massive implications across the enterprise.
Especially in a market like Singapore, where consumers spend most of their waking hours on digital devices and social media being among the top 3 activities they engage with at least once in a day, it is imperative that businesses here watch how consumer behaviour and lifestyles are impacted as a result.
Social media communities have become part of a user’s identity, serving as powerful broadcasting platforms and providing a window into their wants, desires, likes and dislikes.
The industry is seeing a turning point where the social media reins will transition from a primary marketing function to a customer service play. The enormous untapped potential around customer service engagement, powered by social listening, is a key reason for this evolution. Of course, social media will continue to play an important role with marketing, as well as other areas of the business, but it’ll be a different one than in the past.
Today, customer service engagement is the new marketing. There are several factors driving this shift that social media is making toward service:
1. Customer expectations
Consumers today expect to be able to reach out and contact companies when they want and how they want—omnichannel is every brand’s new reality. Social media is the fastest growing channel for customer service. With many markets in the region becoming mobile-first, with the average Singaporean spending close to 3 and a half hours on their mobile phones daily, it is no surprise that consumers will continue to gravitate towards mobile messaging apps, expecting brands to engage with them there, too.
The Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), for instance, is one such local brand that is leveraging customer experience cloud technology to better understand and address prospective students’ enquiries, and subsequently enabling the educational institution to sustain interest from prospective students.
2. Business value
Social media is a much more cost-effective and efficient channel for customer service reps and call centers. A study by the Aberdeen Group shows that companies that developed social media care capabilities improved year-over-year revenue per contact by almost 20% over companies without social media customer service. Solving a customer problem on Twitter costs an average of USD1.00, only a sixth of what it would cost to solve the same problem through a call center. Couple these with the tremendous ability to influence the customer experience, and it’s a no-brainer that social media service drives business value by cutting call-center costs through agent effectiveness and efficiencies.
3. Brand reputation
Social media service is more than just resolving issues – it drives brand reputation. 82% of customers who have had a good experience on Twitter are likely to recommend the brand based on their interaction. Customers who encounter positive social media customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand.
Brands can hear the conversations as they’re happening across social media, and they have a direct way to engage, resolve issues and positively impact customers—and those “watching.” These public forums can be powerful influencers. Thanks to vociferous consumers, social media service engagements are impacting brand reputation and loyalty in a way never seen before. Through powerful social listening technologies, brands that engage and delight their customers are seeing big benefits.
4. Social fuels unified customer profiles
For most companies, social still remains in a silo. The great hope of “Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM)” isn’t happening for the majority. Customer feedback and surveys are important, but they aren’t good at discovering things you didn’t know you should ask or look for—that’s where social insights play a huge role. Furthermore, customers today expect businesses to know them and their past history and interaction.
Hence, businesses must take a step back and foster customer data integration from the beginning as it is crucial to understand how, when, where and what customer data is being collected. Mastering this will enable businesses to compare and analyse KPIs, benchmarks and goals in existing customer contexts. Businesses must not shy away from new technologies. Instead they should consider future-proofing their omnichannel strategy by building a strong foundation that facilitates data integration so potential collaborations can be identified from the beginning.
Social: A critical piece of modern marketing
Traditional marketing is trying to get people to notice and engage with your brand. Customer service is engaging with someone who is already invested in your brand. And in the public world of social media, the impact on business is more than just resolving the issue—it’s driving brand awareness and loyalty. Customer service engagement is the new marketing. And it’s a critical piece of the customer experience puzzle—perhaps the most important.
Social media listening, engagements, data and insights are critical to most every aspect of business today. But the role customer service plays with social listening and engagement will increase drastically as mobile-social media usage continues to soar and consumers expectations rise. Social media will still play a valuable role in marketing, sales, commerce, product development and more. But its shift to social media is a sign of our times and a customer experience priority for all businesses.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Raen Lim is the Head of Apps at Oracle Singapore. Prior to assuming this role, she was the General Manager responsible for bringing innovation and success to customers in the ASEAN region through leveraging Oracle’s social and mobile suite of Customer Experience solutions. Raen is a passionate cloud evangelist and has more than 15 years of industry experience in technology sales, market and business development, as well as channel recruitment and enablement. Prior to joining Oracle, she had spent 6 years with Salesforce growing the ASEAN business. She was also with Symantec Corporation in various enterprise sales positions before she joined Salesforce.
Raen holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Studies, majored in Marketing, from Nanyang Technological University. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree with Distinction, from University of Manchester.