Magazine article CRM Magazine

Is Social Media Still Just Hype? When Used Wisely, This Channel Can Be a B2C Gold Mine

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Is Social Media Still Just Hype? When Used Wisely, This Channel Can Be a B2C Gold Mine

Article excerpt

IN TODAY'S digital world, consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips, giving them more control than ever over who gets their business. They know they have choices and are ready to switch providers if the companies they are using are not willing--or able--to meet their needs.

The problem for most companies actually starts with a willingness--or lack thereof--to recognize that things have changed at the core of the sales experience. The traditional sales and marketing funnel doesn't take into consideration a selling environment with ongoing engagement that emanates from the customer, rather than one that is just pushed at him. Companies are finding that to win in business, they need to adopt new models that meet customers where they are, whether on their mobile device, laptop, or in the store. In many cases, this translates into the need to create a strong and consistent social media presence.

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To make the most of social media, companies should first look to improve their consistency in how they approach and react to their customers. Once that foundation is in place, there are two areas that are critical to get right.

First, companies need to make the leap from treating social media as a separate initiative or channel that can be treated differently from their other customer-interaction touchpoints to weaving it into their multichannel sales and marketing plans. An Accenture survey found that only one-quarter (26 percent) of B2C companies have formally linked their social media channels to a customer-related function. The vast majority of companies are still not linking social media with their other customer-related channels, and risk confusing customers with conflicting messages or offers.

Take, for instance, a valuable airline customer who missed her connection due to a late arrival and immediately tweeted her displeasure. The airline social media team saw the tweet and "did its job"--by quickly replying and offering a credit on the airline's next flight. A few hours later, the customer received an email that simply acknowledged the situation and stated that there was nothing more the airline could do--another group "doing its job" and following policies. Clearly, the two departments were not connected, causing confusion for the customer and embarrassment for the company. …

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