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Social Media as Customer Service: The Continued Evolution of Online Networking

Social Media as Customer Service: The Continued Evolution of Online Networking:

Consumers as a collective tend to be a whole lot more powerful than they individually realize. If enough people want the same thing, they can literally change everything about your brand: from the way your product works to the goals you were trying to achieve to the product or service you were releasing in the first place.



They can also change the shape of the social networking revolution, too. And they have - in a big, bold way.

The Era of Social Support:

Social networking may have started as a way to essentially send commercials to people on their mobile phones, but it's long since become something much more important. Consider the following statistics:
  •       Nearly one out of every three social media users say that they actually prefer social media customer care services to more traditional telephone or even email-based methods.
  •       According to that same study, nearly two thirds of all consumers now say that they use sites like Facebook and Twitter to seek resolution for problems that they may be encountering.
  •       Almost 70% of consumers who responded to a survey said that they have used social media sites for issues having to do with customer service on at least one occasion during their relationship with a brand.
  •       Most importantly, customers who engage with companies on social media (and see those companies respond) tend to spend 20 to 40% more money than those who do not.

So what does this tell us? If anything, it confirms that social networking is a two-way street. People are willing to pay attention to the targeted advertisements that you send them if they know that they're getting something in return.
But that "something in return" needs to be more than just the "opportunity" to part with some of their hard-earned money. They need to know that you'll be there for them if they need you. They need to know that you see them as people and not just line items on a balance sheet.
Pivoting your social media arm to act as one part marketing, one part customer service enterprise is therefore the best way to accomplish exactly that.
Also consider the fact that according to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, the absolute most important factor in terms of customer loyalty involves doing whatever you can to reduce customer effort as much as possible.
Never forget that this goes far beyond just making that initial purchase as easy as possible. To truly unlock the full potential of these implications, you need to go a fair bit deeper than that.
Make no mistake: this is what the people want. Failing to live up to your end of this bargain will only ultimately do your customers, your brand and everything you've worked so hard to build up to this point a massive disservice.

Create Collateral With This Mentality in Mind:

Much of this comes down to a shift in perspective: you need to stop thinking about customer service for what it is traditionally used as and more about what your audience actually wants it to be. Sure, sending out a quick tweet or creating a Facebook post about some impending product launch is a good way to get the word out... every once in awhile.
But throughout the course of the average day, social media can and should be a whole lot more than this.
This extends not just to how your brand is using social media networks like Facebook or Twitter, but also the types of content and other collateral that you're specifically creating for these sources.
Use Infographics or Presentations created with a tool like Visme (which, for the sake of full transparency, I am a founder of) to get to work on a little "proactive customer service" as often as possible. Don't wait for your audience to have a problem and then hope that they come to you - address challenges before people have a chance to actually encounter them and you'll come out all the better for it.
Take a look at this eBook that we created called "How to Make an Infographic," for example. Throughout the course of this guide, we dive deep into the 13 different types of Infographics that are available for you to use today. Some formats lend themselves naturally to selling, sure - but that's only a small fraction of their true potential.
Instead of creating Infographics that are little more than glorified commercials, build collateral that answers questions before your audience has a chance to ask them. Solve problems before they encounter them. Don't be afraid to go into deep detail about not what someone might want your product for today, but what it can also be used for tomorrow that they may not have even realized.

Onward and Upward:

This is the true art of social media as customer service. It's about continuing to use social media as a communication mechanism long after that initial purchase has been made.
It's about showing your audience that you care about them as people and that you're invested in their own success. More than that, it's about stating clearly that you'll be by their side every step of the way and that you truly want their lives to be better after they've entered into a relationship with your brand than it was before that relationship started.
If you can master this (and practice what you preach day in and day out), you'll have something a whole lot more powerful than just a way to communicate with any member of your target audience with just a few quick taps of your finger.
You'll have the foundation of a true relationship in every sense of the term. A relationship that will serve both you and your audience members well for years to come. 

About the Author: 


Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics,  and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.

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