You want to meet someone special. Someone that you could start a long, prosperous and mutually beneficial relationship with. Someone whose goals match yours and who you can work with to achieve your goals together. You know what I mean?
No, I’m not thinking about joining an online dating site. I’m thinking about how we work with our clients here at FACE. It’s a partnership, and over time it gets even better. At the start, it can of course be terrifyingly… new.
When you’re in a truly social business, you have to put yourself out there – just like in any other relationship. You have to talk openly. You have to listen. To experience the benefits of a dialogue with your clients or customers– not just a monologue by your brand – you have to be real. My former colleague Pete Blackshaw used to say: you’ve got to demonstrate trust, authenticity, transparency, confidence, consistency, and integrity to be socially successful. Subtext here is that being selfish and isolated is not recommended.
Alongside account manager Anna Dorywalska, I thought we’d share some thoughts.
Consumers are changing, so should you
What do you do when you want to find information about a new product, service or organisation? Do you Google the name and check relevant websites, or ask your peers and see what Twitter has to say? How about complaining about a company – phone call to their customer service or quick note to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers? In times when trust in businesses is declining (check out the Edelman Trust Barometer), an increasing number of us are likely to say the latter in both cases. It’s easier, quicker and, lets face it, less frustrating. For that reason it’s important for organisations to be truly present in social media and engage in conversations evolving not only around their brand, but also competitors and the industry in general. Participating in honest and dynamic discussions will help you strengthen existing relationships, but also be crucial in acquiring new brand fans.
This is how they do it
Whether your online presence is established and you’re rocking your customer service on social, or have only just started thinking about jumping on the wagon – one thing is certain, your customers are talking about you (and to you), and they expect you to react. And it’s a good thing!
@O2’s epic response to customer feedback during their network outage in 2012 probably will be used as an example of great customer service for years to come. The company managed to turn what seemed to be a hopeless situation into a successful showcase of its social media ninja skills (forgive us for using this phrase!) and company values.
Not only O2 have benefited from a humorous and witty approach to customer care online. Netflix, Sainsbury’s, and Bodyform have also decided to show their ‘human face’ via social and engaged in a friendly banter with customers.
We acknowledge some companies, financial services in particular, might find this type of approach challenging or even impossible. Fear not! It’s not only about the humour. What matters is having a solid social media strategy, a dedicated team (consisting of one or 20 members, depending on business needs) and technology supporting both.
As Daryl West, Social Media Insight Manager at Telefonica UK, says:
“Social media customer service is now a large part of our service remit with over 4000 customer queries handled by more than 20 trained social media service specialists on a weekly basis. We helped develop an engagement platform with FACE that helped create a strong workflow management system that could filter and categorise queries to drive efficiency in social customer service.”
Telefonica was one of the first companies to realize the potential of social and implement innovative solutions within the business. The brand hasn’t stopped there and being a social business is as important as ever. Says Daryl:
“We truly believe that our presence on social media demonstrates to consumers that we are a forward thinking brand that’s future proofing our customer service by being responsive and supportive on new and developing service channels. Furthermore, we also use social media service as an indicator to flag customer problems, if repetitive issues arise in social we can flag to our other service channels. This is a great way of using real time social media insight to feedback and maintain excellence across all service channels.”
Being real should be easy, not to mention fun, right? So why is the threat of social failure still one of the most frequent concerns I hear from clients?
Well, because just like personal relationships, brand and client relationships take work – and sometimes they can be scary. Inevitably, sometimes needs won’t be perfectly aligned and there will be differences of opinion on the right steps to take. And at FACE we’ve had a breakup where we’ve listened to our client’s point of view but in the end had to be confident about our transparency and remain consistent and true to ourselves. Thankfully, when you’re a truly social business, working on your client and customer relationships also defines you. Each interaction is an opportunity to affirm and communicate what your brand stands for.
FACE CEO Andrew Needham wrote just a couple of days ago about the importance of “delivering customer obsession in the digital age”. Business is changing – moving away from a old manufacturing “product first” model, towards one where customer needs lead. That’s why we think social media listening, engagement and customer care is so important. It’s what turns an interaction into a relationship – it’s what turns brand awareness into customer loyalty.
Erika Ammerman is the Head of Social Insight at FACE. She has worked for clients ranging from healthcare to hair care and beyond. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Anna Dorywalska is a Social and Pulsar Account Manager. She is following her passion for social media, working with brands including O2, eBay and Samsung. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.