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Social’s shift to service: Customer service engagement is the NEW marketing

Every piece of technology evolves. Somewhere along the way, technology has changed us, too: how we communicate, share information and ideas, and define ourselves. Social media is no different.

Social media has developed into a mainstream communications channel, which has given rise to today’s empowered consumer. The business to consumer paradigm has forever shifted and it has massive implications across the enterprise.

Today, it’s important to watch how consumer behaviour shifts as platforms change and social media usage grows—thanks to mobile’s proliferation via the ubiquitous smartphone. Our social communities have become part of our identities, serving as powerful broadcasting platforms and providing a window into our wants, desires, likes and dislikes. Historically, it was marketing that first embraced social media: experimenting, learning and reaping benefits over the past decade. In most cases, social still resides within the marketing department. But we are seeing this evolve, with a transition to service.

The industry is seeing a turning point where the social media reins will transition from a primary marketing function to a customer service play. This is happening across verticals, even among institution of higher learnings. This includes private education institute, SC College, an Oracle Social Cloud customer. SC College recently turned to the Oracle Social Cloud, a Social Relationship Management (SRM) business solution to discover, analyse and respond across paid, owned and earned social channels and measure the impact of data-driven campaigns. ST Loh, Chief Executive, SC College said, “Oracle Social Cloud helps us in our endeavours to provide high-quality accounting and business education opportunities. With Oracle, we are now able to monitor the effectiveness of digital and social marketing campaigns and enable strategic planning.”

The enormous untapped potential around customer service engagement (powered by social listening) is a key reason for this evolution. Of course, social media will continue to play an important role with marketing, as well as other areas of the business, but it’ll be a different one than in the past. Today, customer service engagement is the new marketing. There are several factors impacting this trend and why social is shifting to service:

1. Customer Expectations

Consumers today expect to be able to reach out and contact companies when they want and how they want—omnichannel is every brand’s new reality. And social is the fastest growing channel for customer service. According to a 2017 report by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, a whopping 51 per cent of Malaysians used WhatsApp to find, share or discuss news in a given week. It is no doubt that consumers will continue to gravitate towards mobile messaging apps and they’ll expect brands to engage with them there, too.

2. Business Value

Social media is a much more cost-effective and efficient channel for customer service reps and call centers. A study by the Aberdeen Group shows that companies that developed social care capabilities improved year-over-year revenue per contact by almost 20% over companies without social customer service. Solving a customer problem on Twitter costs an average of USD1.00, just a sixth of what it would cost to solve the same problem through a call center. Couple these with the tremendous ability to influence the customer experience, and it’s a no-brainer that social service drives business value by cutting call-center costs through agent effectiveness and efficiencies.

3. Brand Reputation

Social service is more than just resolving issues – it drives brand reputation. 82% of customers who have had a good experience on Twitter are likely to recommend the brand based on their interaction. (Source: Abeerden Group) Customers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand.

Brands can hear the conversations as they’re happening across social, and they have a direct way to engage, resolve issues and positively impact customers—and those “watching.” These public forums can be powerful influencers. Thanks to vociferous consumers, social service engagements are impacting brand reputation and loyalty in a way never seen before. Through powerful social listening technologies, brands that engage and delight their customers are seeing big benefits.

4. Social Fuels Unified Customer Profiles

For most companies, social still remains in a silo. The great hope of “Social CRM” isn’t happening for the majority. Customer feedback and surveys are important, but they aren’t good at discovering things you didn’t know you should ask or look for—that’s where social insights play a huge role. Furthermore, customers today expect businesses to know them and their past history and interaction.

Hence, businesses must take a step back and foster customer data integration from the beginning as it is crucial to understand how, when, where and what customer data is being collected. Mastering this will enable businesses to compare and analyse KPIs, benchmarks and goals in existing customer contexts. Businesses must not shy away from new technologies. Instead they should consider future-proofing their omnichannel strategy by building a strong foundation that facilitates data integration so potential collaborations can be identified from the beginning.

Social: A Critical Piece of Modern Marketing

Traditional marketing is trying to get people to notice and engage with your brand. Customer service is engaging with someone who is already invested in your brand. And in the public world of social, the impact on business is more than just resolving the issue—it’s driving brand awareness and loyalty. Customer service engagement is the new marketing. And it’s a critical piece of the customer experience puzzle—perhaps the most important.

Social media listening, engagements, data and insights are critical to most every aspect of business today. But the role customer service plays with social listening and engagement will increase drastically as mobile-social usage continues to soar and consumers expectations rise. Social will still play a valuable role in marketing, sales, commerce, product development and more. But its shift to social is a sign of our times and a customer experience priority for all businesses.

Bernard Solomon

Bernard Solomon is the Head of Applications, Malaysia at Oracle.