Alistair mentioned how he had seen some research predicting that spending on social media in both marketing and customer services would rise in 2012. I also noticed a report over the holiday season that detailed how existing customer contact centres will be bolstered through the use of social media this year.
The report outlines a case study of the Conversocial software. This aims to integrate into an existing customer service arrangement, to help agents use many channels when interacting with consumers. Of course, we have already built our own tools (in Scotland) that not only facilitate this engagement, but allow for analysis and monitoring- for instance, alerting agents to the fact that a consumer is complaining about a particular product even if they have not contacted the official helpline.
One really interesting thing that the head of Conversocial said is that customers are using social media as a customer service channel, whether the companies involved like it or not.
This is a critical point.
There are still many doubters out there who are managing the official channels to customer help – the call centre, the email channel, even the written letter. They might not like the idea that various social networks need to be monitored, but customers are just asking for help anyway and expecting a response.
The obvious negative to this is that if customers are crying out for help and brands do not bother answering, it not only looks bad (the non-answer), but it can create further dissent and dissatisfaction.
Someone with a mild complaint can be turned into a brand advocate if they get attention that helps to resolve an issue. Someone with a mild complaint who is ignored can turn into the worst enemy of any brand – a constant source of negative material all across the Internet, and all published because of the treatment online, not because of any initial complaint.
It’s an interesting thought. Many customer service managers need to think about getting a social media strategy, not because customers are officially asking for it, but just because those customers are talking about the brand anyway and everywhere.