Nearly every business today, large or small, utilizes social channels to promote their brand, build customer relationships and enhance the customer experience. Savvy businesses have long used social channels to listen to what their customers are saying about their brand, measure how they are reacting to new product updates and stay on top of current industry trends.

Early awareness of these trends can inform strategic changes that lead to first-mover advantages, improved customer loyalty and increased revenue for businesses.

Businesses Need Better Social-Channel Customer Care

For example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that were engaged and analyzing their social media data were able to more quickly identify services that customers wanted and needed to stay safe, including curbside pickup, contactless delivery, improved return policies on online purchases and mask requirements for in-person shopping.

But while many businesses have successfully tapped social data to discover new potential sales opportunities and grow their business, there are many more examples of brands blundering when attempting to provide customer care over their social channels.

This is an area businesses need to make improvements, and they need to make them quickly. Consumers have grown to enjoy the convenience of shopping and receiving support on their mobile devices.

For most people today, providing digital customer service is no longer a nice-to-have option — it’s preferred. And consumers' expectations for support are high. Studies show that customers will wait for a response up to just one hour on social media, just one day after leaving a review and less than a minute when messaging with a brand using their digital channels. In fact, most consumers will only spend 10 minutes or less searching for a solution to their problem on self-help channels (online FAQs, chatbots, IVR) before abandoning a purchase.

While digital customer support (DCS) became a priority for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many organizations without a dedicated DCS team or plan. Below are three reasons why businesses should invest in DCS in 2022:

Related Article: How to Sell Customers on the Benefits of AI-Powered Customer Support

Digital Customer Support Saves Money, Improves CX

The truth is, contact center managers are often heavily focused on cost reduction. However, rather than increase costs, DCS channels like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and SMS can help reduce expensive call-center volumes, and they provide opportunities for businesses to create custom workflows to handle simple chat conversations, concerns or commonly asked questions.

When implemented correctly — digital customer service interactions see higher CSAT, NPS and drive greater customer loyalty, as well as fewer repeat contacts and more case resolutions in the same amount of time that a call would take. With the right technology, agents can multi-task by taking on multiple conversations at the same time, whereas that is impossible for traditional phone calls. Thus, deploying DCS can enable contact center staff to handle more customer concerns in less time, using fewer agents, leading to savings.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: Why Proactive Customer Support Is the Next Priority for Customer Experience

Digital Customer Service Unlocks the True Value of Social Listening

A holistic approach to social analytics is necessary for businesses to understand their consumers and competitors. Research has shown that social media trends are leading indicators of consumer concerns, behaviors and preferences. By aggregating social data with things like reviews, messaging and other digital customer outreach data, an organization can gain an on-the-ground understanding of what trends affect consumers and how those are manifesting in their outreach directly to their organization.

Altogether, this offers businesses more granular information on brand awareness and reputation, allowing brands to be proactive in their approach to customer care.

Unstructured Customer Data Becomes a Goldmine of Insights

Advances in natural language understanding (NLU) technology enable businesses to gather more in-depth insights into competitors and deeper brand awareness by analyzing the open-text, unstructured data from digital customer service interactions. When NLU models are tuned on DCS data, a new picture of the customer's interactions with their support channels becomes available.

Brands can use this technology to measure things like emotional intensity, how empathetic the agent was, and how much effort it took to complete a support task. All of this data can be added to a business CRM or customer data platform. The ultimate goal is to make this information readily available to agents and managers, so managers can better develop their agents and so agents have a view into an individual's entire history of transactions, experiences and preferences with a brand. With this comprehensive view, the entire support team can scale personalized experiences.

Final Thoughts: Path to Customer Loyalty

Customers today expect fast, convenient customer service from any channel. The companies that continue to invest in digital service technologies realize increased sales, establish stronger customer loyalty through personalized service and save money by increasing efficiency.