Did your airline make you wait hours on end on the tarmac? Did your favorite online shoe merchant send you the wrong sandals for your trip to Bermuda? Poor customer experiences can quickly damage the reputation of your brand. And let there be no doubt about it — social computing has changed the game for managers in customer-facing roles such as customer service.
The Evolution of Solutions
Customers who are disappointed with the service they receive are quick to voice their disappointment — which is then amplified by social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp or similar communities — leading to erosion of brand value.
In fact, Forrester’s Social Technographics studies indicate that 68 percent of B2C consumers and 80 percent of B2B customers fall into the “spectator” category, which consists of people who read comments, ratings and reviews posted on social media sites. Your brand is now under constant scrutiny 24 hours a day.
In this new world, traditional “CRM” (including those for customer service) solutions will continue to aggregate customer data, analyze that data, and automate workflows to optimize business processes. This is an inside-out approach, where activities are performed for the benefit of the organization.
But organizations must evolve to find innovative new solutions to engage with emerging social consumers, enrich the customer experience through community-based interactions, and architect flexible solutions that foster strong intra-organizational and customer collaboration. We describe this as taking an outside-in approach, where customer interactions are the key to success.
Forrester data shows that more and more organizations use social technologies for customer service to participate in virtual conversations with community members in order to gather and act on their feedback on products and services, as well as to leverage customer expertise to evolve product knowledge in line with customer demand.
In a recent a survey, we found that 47 percent use customer communities; 39 percent use social listening technologies; and 42 percent offer customer service via social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
How does social computing change the solution landscape that you must navigate? You need more than a social media monitoring tool. Already, we’re hearing stories of companies that have haphazardly implemented one, without thinking of their broader customer relationship strategy.
You need a clear understanding of the emerging extended customer management business process and solution ecosystem, which we define as the business processes and supporting technologies that support the key activities of: targeting, acquiring, retaining, understanding and collaborating with customers.
Forrester's Seven Steps
So, if you support customer service, what do you need to do about social computing? Team up with your colleagues in marketing, e-Business, service and sales so that you have a comprehensive company strategy, instead of one soiled by functional organization and follow Forrester's seven steps for success:
- Initiate social customer engagement experiments immediately. Build some practical experience that will break you out of your of old mindsets.
- Benchmark customer and prospect social readiness. Use frameworks, such as Forrester's Social Technographics, to survey and define segment profiles and design interaction plans that align with their current social behaviors and preferences. For example, Linksys has discovered a whole world of super-users who are willing to provide support to their peers for free. Lego has capitalized on an already successful independent user group to recruit brand ambassadors to stimulate increased social interactions that were already emerging in the buyer community.
- Define your social customer objectives. The most important decision is not what technology to use; most important is determining whom you're trying to reach, what you're trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change your relationships with your customers. Adopt Forrester's four-step method — POST (people, objectives, strategy, and technology) — to define your next-generation customer management strategy.
- Assess your social engagement capabilities. Undertake a self-assessment to understand how your organization stacks up compared with customer service best practices and identify where you should focus your attention for quick wins.
- Understand the social solutions landscape. Learn to navigate an emerging solutions landscape that includes both traditional CRM and customer service solutions and new social computing capabilities.
- Map out your social capabilities-building plan. A social plan for customer service should be tightly linked to business goals, be focused on customer benefits, clearly identify the processes and constituencies that will be affected, and specify the associated information and capabilities required.
- Define your metrics for success. To achieve success using social computing technologies, you need to pay attention to how well you track toward your goals over the long term. You need traditional CRM metrics, like email marketing offer click-through rates, sales opportunity close ratios and first-time call resolution. But, you should also think about new social sentiment measures, like social conversation buzz, reach and value.
About the Author
William Band is a vice president and principal analyst and Kate Leggett is a principal analyst at Forrester Research. They serve Application Development & Delivery Professionals.
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