How Social Care Can Help Build Your Corporate Brand
How Social Care Can Help Build Your Corporate Brand
Note: This article was originally published on TELUS International blog
In a recent article on Forbes.com, Reuven Gorsht, vice president of customer strategy at SAP, argued that empowering your top customer advocates to respond for you on social media is a smart business move. Gorsht points out that, despite sophisticated social listening tools, a surprising number of successful brands are not responding to a large percentage of customer feedback on social channels.
Are brands not taking social media customer care seriously? Are they consciously choosing not to respond on social channels? Have they invested in the wrong listening tools? Or are they simply overwhelmed with the volume of feedback? We recently commissioned a social care benchmarking study to answer just those questions – check it out here.
According to Gorsht, there is a simple reason for otherwise successful brands neglecting social channels. The sheer volume of social conversations has made it increasingly impractical for employees to keep up, he says.
Enabling Customers to Speak On Your Behalf Through Social Care
One solution is to create an environment where customers speak on your behalf. Gorsht points to a member of information technology company Hewlett-Packard’s (HP’s) online community who often spends 30 hours a week helping out his fellow customers.
HP support agents do not comment on Facebook posts or attempt to resolve issues. Instead, their Facebook support page is purely customer driven. Given the level of activity, this strategy is working well. There’s little to no negative commentary on HP online. Would-be detractors are most likely tempered by the lack of presence of official HP representatives.
Findings from a recently commissioned TELUS International study support and reinforce HP’s approach. The study analyzes seven Fortune 500 companies to identify the social interaction best practices used by their customer service departments to resolve issues, gather feedback, collaborate on ideas and build relationships. The research findings underscore Mr. Gorsht’s opinion – that social media trends have helped shift who it is that speaks on behalf of corporate brands.
Social Care and Brand Impacts
Our study also found that a company’s customer support communications are generally less well-liked than the company brand overall. The study measured sentiment (the overall positive or negative opinion of brands across social media channels) and found that, for the seven companies studied, sentiment for customer support was typically lower than for the overall brand.
These results suggest that social customer support services as they are currently structured may actually be a net negative.
However, if customer support is done well, it can generate higher positive sentiment than the overall brand sentiment. Of the seven companies we studied, Apple’s customer support maintained the highest level of positive sentiment. At some points in time, its level was even higher than the company’s overall brand sentiment. Even so, it is subject to periods of negative sentiment driven by large-scale events like the iPhone 4G antenna issues in July of 2010.
Well-executed social care can actually raise the social brand perception for the entire company. This isn’t a surprise when you consider that customer service is a major consumer touch point. It is a driver of overall brand sentiment and a contributor to brand equity.
There are a number of opportunities for improvement, and tricks of the social care trade. Companies looking to build their brand through social care should:
– Integrate social technology within a customer care environment. Apply the same science and rigor of the contact center to social care
– Identify customer advocates and consider how to use social tools to offload support requests. Look for ways to invite customers into the business
– Consider rewarding participants in your support forum to help scale the effectiveness of your social care team
As a primary touch point, social care can drive customer acquisition, retention and even future sales. Forward-thinking companies are using social care now to build a brand that will continue to be relevant and relatable to their customers in the future.
To read more about how big brands are using social care to enhance their brand (and not damage it), please check out our “Social Care Benchmarking” white paper.
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