Social Media and Customer Collaboration, What it means for business

I believe we’re at a major inflection point in the customer service industry.  There’s never been a more exciting time to be in customer care as the voice of the customer is becoming louder and more important than ever.  Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and the proliferation of mobile Internet devices has created a massive increase in communications and collaboration.  Customers are sharing insightful product and service experiences on the social web and the question is: Are you listening?  Are you engaging?

There are tens of millions of public postings on the social web every day and some of these postings are about your business.  They may be saying good things, or they may be describing problems with your product or service.  Many businesses are starting to see these conversations as opportunities.  They are opportunities to strengthen relationships with your fans by reinforcing the positive, and opportunities to fix problems and prevent defections when you fail to meet expectations.

Social media customer care is a key investment area for Cisco as we see a structured, scalable approach to social media engagement will be a key success factor in this new social commerce led economy.  I’ve talked to a lot of customers over the past year about this transition and while change can be difficult and even frightening to some, most see the opportunity and ask: Where do we start?

We’ve developed a social media customer care maturity model to help customers diagnose their present state and map out a path forward.  We believe the business will reap additional ROI as they progress through this model.

Level 1 Ad-hoc Listening

These businesses do not have a corporately managed Facebook Page or a Twitter account.  They eventually become alerted to high profile social media flair-ups; however they have no structured listening strategy and are more often surprised by social media.  There are a few stragglers at this level but I see fewer and fewer companies that fit this description.

Level 2 Broadcasting

These are businesses that have staked out a Facebook Page and a Twitter account and they are using these new social media channels to publish their traditional marketing collateral.  They post their press releases and that’s about it.  They are missing out on the new element of social media marketing: engagement.  I see many companies that are mostly stuck at this level, not yet ready to take the next step.

Level 3 Social Media Marketing
These are businesses that are producing and executing social media marketing campaigns.  These are campaigns focused at driving user participation such as followers on Twitter, or Fans on Facebook, or user generated comments and other content.  Most companies are at this level, although many continue to view this practice as “experimental”.  A missing element at this level is customer service or sales.  These campaigns are typically focused on generating buzz around the brand or a specific marketing campaign.  They don’t always connect directly back to sales or service.  It’s common with companies at this level to post arms-length comments such as “Please don’t post customer service questions on our Facebook page.  Please call 800…”.  Businesses at this level view service questions as the unintended consequence of social media engagement.

Level 4 Social Media Customer Care

These businesses have a strategy and a face for customer service in their social media presence.  They have identified personnel that are ready to respond and help customers who engage them via social media.  It’s easy to spot companies at this level because they have publicly stated touch point for engaging them to address customer service issues via social media.  For larger brands you will see @brandcares or @brand_help Twitter accounts or examples of customer questions and answers on their Facebook page.

Level 5 Proactive Care and Sales Engagement

These are the companies that have applied an operational approach to customer service via social media and are now ready to scale.  They aren’t simply on the defensive, responding to complaints but they proactively look proactively for conversations about their brand or conversations about challenges addressed by their products or services. They look for opportunities to add value to these conversations and they’ve even earned the right to promote their product or services in these conversations to drive revenue.

We recently introduced a Cisco SocialMiner as a tool to help businesses get organized and scale their social media engagement.  We’ve taken the best of contact center operational excellence and applied it to this new form customer collaboration. 

We are also excited that NICE has developed value-added solutions that leverage the foundation of Cisco SocialMiner. NICE is working towards integrating cross-channel Interaction Analytics for automatic categorization of interactions based on topics and for providing root-cause analyses of customer related issues such as product or service dissatisfaction. This will enable organizations to obtain new insights on how to deliver a positive impact on customer experience and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

We believe social media holds great promise for improving customer experiences and businesses that take a proactive approach will grow revenue and profitability by becoming closer to their customers. 

I look forward to engaging with you in this conversation.

Thanks,

Tod Famous

Product Line Manager

Cisco

@tfamous

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