FUTURE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE: THE RISE OF THE SOCIAL CUSTOMER © Copyright 202. ItsOpen (www.itsopen.co.uk ).
his report examines the role playedby social media within the rapidly-changing landscape of customer service. Thereport was commissioned by rst directand is based on the insights of executives,technologists and theoretical experts.Last year (2011) proved to be thetipping point where social media enteredthe mainstream. Over 44% of adults nowuse the web to share grievances aboutproducts, with customers expecting tointeract with companies online and geta speedy response. The social customerhas given rise to the social company - onethat listens to its customers in real-timeand asks them to collaborate in futuredevelopments. In turn this has led to theemergence of hosted community platforms,through which companies are able toharness the support of their most loyal andpassionate customers.The report includes numerous casestudy examples of the ways in whichcompanies are using social media and thebenets they are enjoying as a result. Italso describes the cultural, functional andtechnical changes that are required tobuild the social enterprise. These startwith support at the highest level: executiveleaders should stop treating social media asa passing fad and recognise the enhancedcustomer service and satisfaction it deliversand potential cost savings it can bring, ascustomers themselves take on activitiespreviously carried out by the customerservice and marketing functions.Executives are further urged to:make themselves more visible, especiallywhen public crises occur.provide all employees with the training,tools and authority to engage withcustomers.look beyond standard metrics to thevalue of brand loyalty, advocacy and asense of community.
The report emphasises the importanceof CRM software as a means to harness thecollective knowledge within the company.This offers a means to tap into a powerfulanalytics and monitoring platform withoutthe need for a signicant capital investment.The report goes on to describe howcompanies are building online supportcommunities with the participation of their most loyal customers. It furtherrecommends that:the customer service operation isequipped to monitor and engage with atargeted spectrum of media.companies fully understand where, whyand how their customers are using socialmedia before making any changes.a balance is struck across different typesof media - telephone, email, web, socialand mobile.the power of online communitiesis recognised, and customers areencouraged to help each other.relationships are nurtured withadvocates who wield particular inuenceon the Internet.specialist tools are used to measure theimpact of customers’ online activity.
n conclusion, the report warns againstany hasty investment in specialisttools before the social dynamics of thecompany’s customer interactions are fullyunderstood. Companies also need tounderstand the operational and stafngrequirements of social CRM technologybefore retooling their existing customerservice infrastructure. However thesecaveats should not be allowed to disguisethe real benets of moving towards thesocial enterprise, in terms of reducing costs,strengthening customer loyalty and raisingpositive brand awareness.
ompaniesalso need to understand the operational
requirementsof social CRM
technology before retooling their existing
Head of Brand and Communications
, rst direct