Customer relations are one of the most important activities for business success. According to a report, investing in new customers is almost five to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Providing a superior customer experience can also improve the profitability of a business. According to another study, close to 64% of business leaders believe that customer service has had a positive impact on the growth of the organization.
Customer expectations have changed with the advent of social media platforms. In a world where social media platforms are leading the conversation and customers prefer them for interactions and engagement, it is obvious that brands also keep them on their priority list for managing customer perception and experience. A lot of interaction on these social media platforms revolves around the brands being used by customers. As a result, brands need to track, measure, and understand the conversations taking place on these platforms.
The world has moved on from the phase when platforms like Orkut or MySpace were known as the most popular social media platforms. But now the time has changed, and it is not surprising that we have new platforms to interact and engage with people. Facebook and Instagram are used to have social interactions within the friend circle; Twitter for mass social interactions, even with those who are not followed by us; LinkedIn for professional social interactions, and YouTube for sharing videos and having visual interactions.
Here is all we need to know about customer relations and the ever-changing social landscape:
What are customer relations?
Customer relations refers to the methods and techniques a company uses to engage with its customers and try to improve the customer experience. Customer relations are an essential aspect of increasing loyalty among customers as well as profitability.
Since it is relatively less expensive to keep existing customers happy compared to continuously investing in acquiring new customers, companies make a conscious effort to improve the experience for existing customers. At the same time, customer relations are useful in providing a superior customer experience.
The marketing team needs to analyze and keep track of customer behavior. However, this can prove tedious for a large customer base. It can get challenging for the team to keep tabs on customers’ choices and preferences. In such a scenario, businesses need to use powerful business tools like tracking conversations on social media to understand the current perception of the brand among the masses. By doing so, the company can create expected routes to improve customer relations.
Types of social channels
Various social channels exist in the ecosystem. It is essential to have a proper understanding of each of them to effectively understand their role in building a superior customer experience. Here are the major types of social channels that are considered:
Social media platforms are a channel through which individuals can connect in the virtual world. Social media platforms exist in the form of websites and mobile apps where users can share their views, achievements, and grievances with their followers and friends. While social media platforms started with general platforms, Over time, specialized platforms have been created keeping individual preferences in mind, like professional networking platforms, platforms that allow creating and posting videos, clicking photographs, etc.
Social media platforms are an important part of the social lives of individuals today. A large part of the interactions that an individual has in the modern era take place on social media platforms. As a result, it has become critical for brands to be present on these channels and make a conscious effort to improve brand perception.
Discussion boards empower users to discuss news, opinions, and answers to each other’s questions. Many social media platforms allow users to ask questions and get answers from other users or experts. Platforms like Quora, Reddit, etc. are examples of Forums where user activity includes providing answers to queries posted by other users. These discussion boards create several groups and communities where users interested in a particular topic continue to come back for more information. For instance, if we are interested in cars, we will join some interesting communities on Quora and spend relatively more time going through the content as it has been tailor-made based on our interest area.
Networks for exchanging images
There are specialized social networks that have been created for the exchange of images. People post images on these platforms along with other relevant content. Since these platforms have multimedia content, they are highly visual mediums for interacting with each other. Platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. are examples of image-based social networks. Such platforms provide a forum for generating ideas, encouraging innovation, enhancing the appeal of our products, and getting people to talk about our company. For instance, a clothing brand might offer a chance to win a gift card to anyone who uploads a photo of themselves wearing their item on social media.
Some social bookmarking sites are visited by users. On these websites, users can save various thoughts, articles, blogs, and other stuff for later use. Links to online resource lists are also frequently shared on these websites. These websites aim to discuss trends and find fresh content based on common interests. Examples of networking bookmarking platforms include Digg, Pocket, Dribble, and Twitter. These are particularly useful for understanding industry trends and customer expectations.
Networks for publishing and blogging
Users primarily share their views and opinions on several topics on these social media platforms. At the same time, there are specialized social media platforms that allow a user to use the network for publishing and blogging. For instance, if we are using such a platform to post content, we can write about several topics, including our profession, current events, hobbies, and more. There are many advantages to running our blog on such platforms. We do not need to buy a domain or host it and spend time setting it up. We may also attract new readers from the group of users who come to the network searching for related material. Platforms like Medium are examples of social networking used for publishing and blogging.
Networks of consumer reviews
These websites feature feedback from fellow users on a variety of products and services, giving readers a thorough understanding of the level of consumer satisfaction. Companies can use these platforms to improve their customer experience. For instance, reviews from customers can help us spot any issues that many people encounter frequently and provide us with the opportunity to enhance their experiences over time.
What constitutes a successful consumer interaction strategy? Enabling contact, comprehending a customer’s or prospective customer’s context, presenting rich and pertinent content, offering ease, and, last but not least, communicating with the consumer via all accessible touch points are all essential components of authentic consumer engagement.
How do brands use social media for customer relations?
Social media platforms have the potential to draw a large number of customers to their websites or mobile apps every day. They hold considerable social clout; hence, brands should use social platforms to meet various business objectives, including customer relations.
For instance, brands use social listening tools to track, understand, and respond to customer conversations on social media to build a better customer perception. At the same time, brands also use social media to engage with existing users and appeal to potential customers through their presence on these platforms.
Brands use a mix of organic (unpaid) and inorganic (paid) methods to keep their customers engaged on social media platforms. Organic methods include regularly posting, running contests, and organizing other activities to boost user engagement. Inorganic methods include running paid advertisements to appeal to existing or new potential clients. Unlike individual users, brands can use some of their marketing budgets to engage with their audience on social media platforms.
How does social listening help in customer relations?
Millions of customers use social media to discuss brands, products, and customer service issues in today’s increasingly digital business environment. Additionally, because individuals are spending more time on social platforms, they are more likely to believe the opinions and reviews posted by other users on social media, blogs, and forums. As a result, businesses need to invest in social listening to understand the user conversations taking place online.
What does social listening include? While some people mix up social listening and social monitoring, there are some significant distinctions between the two.
To monitor all brand references and pertinent conversations, people use social media. Most of the time, they do this to interact with their audiences as needed. At the same time, social listening is a more intricate skill. It is often used to collect data by monitoring certain subjects, brands, keywords, niches, and audiences on social media sites.
On the other hand, social monitoring locates and reacts to specific brand mentions on social media. In contrast, social listening gathers information from these social mentions and various client discussions exclusive to a given company. Later, that data is employed to produce valuable insights that support better-informed decision-making.
Role of Social Media in Branding
Branding is much more than just ensuring visibility for a business. On the surface, branding may appear limited to visual colors, logos, and other similar components. However, branding stands for the identity of the organization. Branding is no longer limited to the offline presence of a brand. The emergence of social media has provided more choices and information to the end consumer. However, it has become more challenging for businesses to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Branding in today’s times means consistent communication and an apt understanding of customer feedback, and social media plays an essential part in this mix.
Here is how social media can help push the branding efforts of a business:
The requirement for branding among firms is to increase their chances of being noticed. People will naturally pay attention to our company far more than they would to one without good branding. People won’t remember a company that doesn’t have consistent branding. Most young people spend their time-consuming content and news on social media. As a result, it is essential to align social media activities to gain increased exposure for the brand.
Boosts customer loyalty
The use of social media in the branding efforts of the organization helps boost customer loyalty. When a customer can see and engage with a brand on a platform and get their queries answered promptly, it increases their level of respect and loyalty toward that brand. By creating such connections and with the help of proper branding, a brand can push customer loyalty and its presence on social media platforms.
Social media plays an important role in creating a brand’s reputation in the market. With reviews, ratings, and other mechanisms, brands can track and improve their reputation using effective strategies on social media platforms. As brand reputation in the online world can be measured more objectively as compared to traditional marketing, it provides a better opportunity for marketers to improve brand reputation on social media.
Social Media – Channel for engagement with customers
The word “social media engagement” refers to all of the two-way interactions and touchpoints that take place between businesses and customers. How we engage with our followers significantly impacts customer happiness and retention, whether by liking a post that has been tagged or responding to an impartial review. Every successful encounter can potentially convert a casual customer into a lifelong patron.
43% of consumers now use social media more frequently to find new companies and goods. About two out of five consumers now use social media more frequently to learn about new goods, services, and brands than they did a few years ago. Over the next three years, it is expected that the same pattern will increase more and more customers expect businesses to engage with them on social media
Additionally, more than half of consumers claim that connecting with a brand or business on social media is more engaging than going to a physical store. Social media will soon be the primary avenue used by brands to communicate with their consumers.
These numbers may be overwhelming all at once. However, they all point toward the importance of social media and its role in business success. As a result, it has become essential for businesses to consider social media and PR as the primary channels to drive user engagement.
For instance, a few years ago, the brand strategy was prepared for traditional channels like TV, radio, outdoor, print, etc., and the same was extended to social media. However, current times demand that social platforms and PR channels be kept on the primary media list for any campaign to succeed. Brands need to include social channels in the campaign mix to ensure the success of a campaign.
To actively participate in these conversations, we can use social listening technologies. Brands are given the knowledge they need to engage in significant conversations with customers about their industry by listening to data. This extensive amount of new data can help us refine our marketing messages, identify market trends, and significantly impact our company.
Brands need to make a concerted effort to make a connection with their audience. It is a golden opportunity for brands to build a meaningful connection with their audience on these social media platforms. As the audience is anyway spending their valuable time on such platforms, it is in the interest of the business to ensure that they are in front of customers.
Social media and Customer Experience Management (CXM)
Social media plays an important role in customer experience management in the current era. As we are living in a phase where most of the interactions between individuals take place on social media platforms, it has become essential for brands to improve their social presence and the overall experience on social media platforms. At the same time, consumers are more aware than ever, and with increasing competition, it has become critical for brands to provide a superior customer experience. In such a scenario, social media plays an important role in providing an outstanding customer experience.
For instance, when a customer is facing a challenge with a product or has a particular query, it is no longer assumed that they will go back to the phone and call the contact center. Rather, customers find answers on social media and like to air their experiences with their social media friends and followers. As a result, the solutions need to be available when the customers need them the most.
In simple words, brands need to be present at places where customers are spending most of their time to ensure a consistent customer experience. In the current times, it is the social media platforms.
We can use social media to build a superior customer experience in several ways. Here are some of the ways we can use social media for customer experience management:
Application Software to Improve Customer Experience
Software packages enable us to do more than just send the occasional marketing message to our Twitter or Facebook followers. They also give us access to tools that allow our internal sales or customer relationship management staff to listen to and interact with customers. These software packages also integrate with various social networks to fully harness their potential.
For instance, we can use social data to make purchasing a lot more relevant, a consumer-centric experience that goes beyond the simple customization that is currently available but underutilized.
Sentiment or Mood Analysis
Some tools mine social media to enable mood detection, such as Viral Heat or sentiment analysis from a company like Sentiment Metrics, in addition to the sufficient social data readily available to businesses.
To determine a rise or fall in sentiment in a given social graph, brands, and retailers can undertake mood or sentiment analysis to scan social media articles, responses, and noise through various keywords. It can also be done in a particular geographic location based on competing companies and industry trends.
Valuable information that may be applied to promote customer involvement
Customers might be able to endure the idea that the data they create is used to forecast trends, and they might even be tracked after “liking” a post from a specific brand or page. However, companies will also want something from all this data mining, and it goes beyond a retailer learning that a customer purchased an identical pair of shoes from a rival because the price was lower.
Customers want to be respected as essential clients
They want to see individual product lines that combine their distinct preferences with rapidly shifting aesthetic or design trends. Regardless of how or where they shop, people want to know that their data will improve their specific experience. Hence, business intelligence and customer satisfaction are interconnected; excelling in business intelligence will get our business more satisfied customers.
The use of social media for customer relations is a useful tool. As social platforms provide an open field for customers to engage with each other, it is difficult for brands to separate the chaff from the wheat. Knowing which are the actual queries and complaints and which social media users are just bullying the brand or having fun is an important aspect of this equation. While there are specialized tools that can help us filter audiences on social media platforms, companies need to be more aware of the nature of social media and have a clear objective from the start.
Once the organization is clear on what they want to achieve from their presence on social media platforms, it is easier to set a roadmap to achieve the objective. In such a scenario, brands need to use effective platforms that help them ace their social media game and improve the overall customer experience. For instance, a brand can go for a customer experience management platform that helps improve how overall customer care functions. It can include tracking social conversations, getting market intelligence, and using competitor benchmarking. At the end of the day, the objective is to improve the customer experience and handle social conversations as they happen.