Moving from Passive to Active Social Service on Facebook
Companies have to leverage and manage more customer
interactions, via a growing number of channels, than ever
before. The accelerating pace of change requires companies
to rethink the way they communicate and engage
with their customers.
In the past, if a consumer had a complaint, they would
email or call customer service, and the conversation stayed
private. With the rapidly emerging influence of Facebook
and other social media, one complaint can instantly go
viral, especially if it is not addressed quickly.
On the flip side, a positive customer experience can
create a brand advocate who shares the experience with
their network of family and friends. And it’s not just the
network effect; studies show that customers who engage
with companies over social media spend 20 to 40 percent
more money with those companies than other customers.
While consumers are increasingly turning to social
media outlets for engaging with companies and brands
they do business with, most businesses are ill-equipped to
respond and engage with customers on a large scale; so
much so that on average, less than 5 percent of questions
asked on corporate Facebook pages are answered. As customers
increasingly treat their online social networks as a
trusted resource for both researching products and obtaining
customer service, companies must find a way to successfully
engage with customers on this critical channel.
The Expanding Role of Social Networks for Businesses
Originally considered marketing’s domain,
social media is becoming an important
customer engagement channel across all
functions, including sales and support.
In fact, a recent study conducted
by Zendesk found that 62
percent of consumers have used social
media for customer support,
with the most active users in the retail,
travel/hospitality industries. Today,
most companies deploy technologies
to listen and to monitor
consumer sentiment through social
media, but they lack the ability
to respond in a quick, accurate
and personalized way.
The Automation of Social
So the million dollar social media question becomes: how
does a company deflect costs and save time, yet provide a
personalized, automated channel that engages customers
and resolves their issues?
According to Altimeter analyst Jeremiah Owyang, the
answer will be the automation of social. In a recent post,
Owyang highlights four types of social media automation
Content Publishing on a Timer: At a basic level, we already
see dozens of social media management system providers
enable brands to publish scheduled content — like Hootsuite,
Expion, Awareness, Argyle Social and Shoutlet.
Social Content Optimization: Several companies are emerging
that optimize content by starting with analysis and developing
intelligence around that. Vendors, such as
SocialFlow, CrowdBooster, Prosodic and Adobe Social,
match what’s being said and time content to publish at the
right time to the right people.
Proactive Response: Soon, we’ll see vendors who will apply
technology like from virtual agent software solution, VirtuOz,
which plans to launch automated tools beyond chat
agents, to deploy in Facebook and Twitter streams, in order
to support brand interactions.
Human-Like Relationships: While on the distant horizon,
artificial intelligence agents will reproduce human behavior
and be a guiding agent, conversationalist, and act like a
real world concierge, host, and for some, even a friend. Assume
Wolfram Alpha, IBM and others working on AI will
seek to pioneer this front.
While the automation of social is still an emerging market,
a few progressive companies are already doing the “unthinkable.”
Certainly a controversial violation of the very
essence of the social network, for businesses, the automation
of social is an attractive alternative to hiring an army
of contractors to answer tweets and Facebook posts. Only
time will tell whether or not the automation of social will
be the solution to this new business conundrum produced
by the social Web. Based on the automation technologies
already being tested in the market today, social media automation
certainly seems like a viable option.
About the Author: Pam Kostka is the Chief Marketing Officer of VirtuOz, the digital
customer relationship experts.