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social media future trends

How effective is social media when it comes to customer retention?

Memeburn gets a lot of mail asking their opinions on various types of marketing or social media best practices; and every so often they throw me a bone, erm… topic, so I can answer some of those questions. Think of me as a digital marketing Agony Uncle!

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan fulfills the role of Lead Digital Marketer for Deloitte Consulting's Technology division where... More

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This time around I got a great one to answer. The question basically asked what thoughts we could pen around online customer service on external channels and retention strategies via social networking media and whether or not these are effective strategies. So let’s get stuck in…

Dear Kash, thanks for a super question. If I had to be brief; I would say that in principle these strategies are absolute winners. Of course I don’t need to be brief, so let me elaborate.

There is a big cavern that often exists between strategy and application. The strategy here shows an excellent level of thinking. For far too long, social media has been seen as a channel to push the sale of goods through and broadcast information. It was “relegated” to marketing and very few departments within the business were able to see any tangible business benefits for themselves. “Social media” was almost a contraction of “social media marketing”.

A survey conducted by CRM Magazine found that when it comes to social media business activities, organisations are taking customer service very seriously with 63% of respondents saying that they are using social media for that purpose.

Social media business activities

With social media being pushed into the light of customer service there are a number of pieces of information that can be gleaned from these conversations.

Social media interactions

This information, when filtered into the organisation properly, can be used in multiple departments from R&D through to sales and marketing.

When it comes to the application of social media for customer service and retention though, there are 3 things I would like to highlight:

1. Create humanized response models to engender loyalty and build relationships
While you may think that automation may be the way to go, consider that you are responding to people. Many companies are guilty of creating robust and well-planned strategy for social customer service delivery, but fall at the final and most important hurdle: creating a voice your audience can relate to.

2. Integrate social media into your existing customer service function
Don’t rely on social to replace your existing channels and don’t expect them to work completely independently. Gone are the days when social media sat on their own at the table like the smelly cousin at your family reunions; you now have to allow social to influence all business functions to become a more responsive customer-centric business.

3. Monitor social interaction to highlight issues and solve problems before they snowball out of control
Social customer service delivery means dealing with criticism and complaints in public, often in front of a large audience. This means you need to have a detailed understanding of what you need to respond to, a guide detailing how to respond, and escalation policies for resolution.

So basically – the same rules that govern everything else that you do when facing your audience needs to be done here as well. These kinds of customer service and retention strategies are excellent ways to engender loyalty and stimulate conversation when they are done correctly and have your target audience and their needs in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidGrahamSA David Graham

    Thanks for something different Jonathan. I like your first point i.e. Create humanized response models to engender loyalty and build relationships

  • http://www.facebook.com/srafouf Saleh Raf

    creating humanized response models. Indeed and for that purpose yes. But there is a need or a gap for authencity. Im thinking offline should be the key to online media. Maybe not literally a human’s voice but rather an unique offline format easily scaled and narrowcasted.