Attention, Pragmatists: 2017 Is the Year Social Care Skepticism Will Start Costing You

Opinion: Companies that implement social engagement can see a 272 percent ROI in just three years

Over the past five years, many early adopters implemented social engagement strategies simply because they believed in the intrinsic value of social media, without worrying about the need for a business case. If you have a socially savvy executive team, then this strategy may still work; but for most companies today, any real investment into social care or messaging needs to be backed up by a clear return on investment analysis.

Many companies have implemented only the bare minimum of investment in social care, with a skeleton team of agents responding only to what they absolutely must on Facebook and Twitter—holding out for tangible proof that it pays to invest in social customer care.

For all of these companies, we have some great news: In a recent study conducted by Forrester Research at our request, it was shown that companies that implement social engagement can see a 272 percent ROI in just three years, through both reduced costs (call deflection, for example) and increased brand value and incremental sales—a huge benefit.

The study was created by Forrester based on real client data in a series of intensive interviews, and it has a methodology that can now be applied to any business. With the growing maturity of social media and mobile messaging, these are now channels that can add huge value in terms of increased sales, stronger retention and higher customer satisfaction.

If you’re looking to move your own social care operation from being a skeleton crew to an initiative that can really impact your organization, here are five best practices for how to get there:

  1. Respond immediately: Twitter data shows that responding in less than 15 minutes drives more propensity to spend and leaves an everlasting positive impression on the customer—enhancing your brand value more than any ad campaign ever could. Nothing drives home the point that you care about your customers more than a super-quick response, and that translates directly into your bottom line.
  2. Proactive service—not just reactive: Jumping into conversations in which your organization is mentioned or has something to say is totally welcome on social media—especially when you inject yourself with a touch of wit or bearing sound advice or solutions to issues. Customers—whether current, potential, happy or disgruntled—invariably appreciate when companies take the initiative and move proactively in providing assistance.
  3. Place sales/reservations agents in messaging, not just customer care: Companies have largely refrained from including salespeople on social messaging teams in the past because of the public nature of social. But for many of our largest customers, the volume of private messaging in social media has overtaken public. With the ability to include interactive functionality and payments in messaging, it has the potential to become a powerful new sales channel—especially in the travel and service industries.
  4. Track sales generated from social conversations: If you’re an online retailer and your agents are sharing links to products, make sure you’re using tracking links that can detail where the sales have come from. For service-based companies, ensure that you are matching up social customers with your customer-relationship-management system so that you can measure the impact of social care and engagement on customer value. It’s been shown that customers who receive a positive response from a brand over social are willing to spend up to 20 percent more on an average-priced item—a huge benefit.
  5. Make smart use of automation and bots: 2016 saw an explosion of bots, but many were merely whimsical or didn’t fully think through the impact on the customer experience. Trying to build a bot-only experience on Messenger or Twitter, especially for customer service, doesn’t work today. But that doesn’t mean that bots and automation aren’t useful. We’ve helped many of our customers implement automated welcome messages and quick replies on Twitter, ensuring that direct messages from customers are routed to the right agent with the right information. These automated messages have reduced agent workflow by 15 percent to 20 percent, while speeding up the time to resolution for customers looking for help.

It pays to be on social, where customers dominate the medium and are having significant impact on the evolution of the brand-consumer relationship. Having agents ready at the helm to provide customer service over social and messaging channels including Twitter and Messenger, in the moment and at scale, is proving more than vital for companies: It’s making them money.

Joshua March is CEO of social customer engagement platform Conversocial.

Image courtesy of FotoCuisinette/iStock.