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Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience: The term “Customer Experience” or CX is often mentioned in business – more so over the last couple of years. But what exactly does it mean? Is it just another way to describe customer service or is it something else altogether? In this article, we look at what Customer Experience is all about, what sets it apart from customer service and what significance it holds for business. We explain why your organisation should adopt a CX approach, and also provide practical solutions, like social media techniques, to help kick start this transition. Intrigued? Let’s get started.

CUSTOMER SERVICE VERSUS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Customer service, customer experience – Aren’t they the same thing? Not quite. Both concepts deal with the interaction between brands and consumers, but the way in which this takes place differs from one approach to the other.  Customer service generally refers to actual tasks and actions related to serving and servicing customers. Customer experience, on the other hand, focuses on public perception of the brand in its entirety. It is important to note that customer service remains a key component of customer experience. The difference is that with a CX approach, customer support activities form part of an integrated client-focused business strategy as opposed to being an independent department or set of tasks. Each term can be defined as follows:

> Customer service refers to support provided by a company to its clients. It generally includes services such as responding to queries (e.g. product price and stockists), sales support (e.g. sales consultants in-store) after-sales assistance (e.g. technical support) and complaint resolution.

> Customer Experience (CX) encompasses the entire journey or sum total of experiences that a client has with a brand. It includes everything from the first point of contact (such as seeing an advert on social media or a product in-store) to post-sales customer relationship. It not only includes physical factors such as the quality of a product, but also emotion-based elements such as customer perception and brand sentiment.

Customer Services versus Customer Experience – As a quick reference, here’s a comparison between customer service and customer experience, highlighting key characteristics of each approach: 

 

WHY CHANGE TO A CX-BASED BUSINESS APPROACH?

The answer to that lies in understanding why the CX approach emerged in the first place. The customer experience approach was developed as a response to changing consumer demands. Recent changes saw purchasing behaviour being influenced by client-centric elements at an increasing rate. This shift in consumer behaviour led to companies changing their business models to suit these demands. The result was a highly customer-centric approach that not only catered to these client needs, but also the changing business landscape in terms of digitisation and alternate media. This was termed the Customer Experience approach.  In the current market, convenience, user-value, personalised communication and brand image are slowly overtaking price as decision-making factors by buyers. In fact, according to statistics, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience (www.qualtrics.com).

So back to the question: Why change to CX? Well, it simply comes down to supply and demand. Customers demand a CX approach – and the better a brand supplies this demand, the higher their success potential. Studies show that this shift is not just a passing fad – they indicate that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (www.econsultancy.com). This is further backed up by Deloitte who state that a consumer’s decision to buy a product or service is impacted by their overall enjoyment of their experience. (www.econsultancy.com). In a consumer-driven business environment, failing to meet customer demands will not just lead to unrealised sales potential, but inevitably, losing market-share to competitors that satisfy said demands. 

 

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HELP YOU TRANSITION TO A CX-BASED APPROACH

By design, social media platforms are ideally suited to a CX-based approach. Below is a list of business characteristics for a strong customer centric approach and details on how social media supports each element:

> Convenience: Consumer research shows that the preferred brand platform for communication is social media. This communication includes sales & marketing content, as well as customer-service-based interactions such as queries, complaints and technical support. Most web-traffic being mobile-based, and as social media is highly mobile-optimised, this increases convenience for customers.

> User Value: Customers support brands that provide some sort of value for them. Social media supports value-rich content such as articles, blogs and surveys. The ability to upload different media types (e.g. images, videos and slideshows) also boosts entertainment and enjoyment levels for consumers.

> Responsiveness, adaptability & interactivity: Clients expect quick turn-around times, responsive service and personalised two-way communication. Social media promotes all this and more. Brands can interact on a one-on-one basis with clients, as well as provide personalised marketing messaging to different client segments. By nature, social media response times are much faster than most traditional customer service methods. Brands can even change their native content in minutes should there be a serious negative response by consumers.

> Positive Brand Image & Affinity: Social media allows brands to position themselves in a desirably manner to boost sentiment. This can be done by increasing user-value through content (as mentioned above), as well as by highlighting positive elements such as a business’s community work or social responsibility projects.

> Customer Journey & Relationships: Social media supports the entire customer journey – from the first point of contact to every other interaction thereafter. This includes brand awareness, sales, marketing, technical support and after-sales communication. It also allows for consistency of experience throughout this journey.

> Quality Service: The combination of the above factors, along with other related functions, means that social media helps improve the overall quality of service that a business offers. This ties in to the overall experience that a customer has with a brand, which is what CX is all about.

To summarise, the core goal of the customer experience approach is to promote positive brand perception that leads to long-term customer relationships. This in turn helps achieve brand objectives such as sales generation, customer retention and business growth. CX is rapidly becoming the primary factor influencing purchasing decisions and customer loyalty. For business success, it is imperative for companies to implement a CX-based approach as part of overall business strategy. Social media is excellently suited to support customer experience and business goals. It is also a cost-effective and non-disruptive way to transition businesses from a purely customer service approach to a customer experience approach. And in a relatively short period of time.

Need assistance with your CX-based activities? Social Media 101 can help with customised solutions to suit your unique business needs. CLICK HERE to get in touch with Social Media 101.

 

THE THEORY OF BUSINESS EVOLUTION: ADAPT OR DIE

THE THEORY OF BUSINESS EVOLUTION: ADAPT OR DIE

Despite varying opinions regarding the origins of our species, there are certain inalienable truths that dominate our existence. Certain human attributes contribute greatly to the way people make choices, as well as interact with each other and their environment. Our entire survival is based on these core rules. Businesses, since they operate within a (human) consumer-driven ecosystem are also governed by these “laws of nature”. One of the most fundamental of these “laws” is that for any entity to survive, it has to be well suited to its surroundings. And should this habitat or environment change, continued survival is dependent on the ability to adapt in line with these changes. In the wild, it’s adapt or die. In business, it’s no different. Read the article below to find out why. 

“When you don’t innovate, you die. When you don’t change, you die.”

– Gary Vaynerchuk

 

 

The Theory of Evolution – Human | Nature

Consider this: why is it that in the current age of mind-blowing technological advancement and unmatched levels of human intelligence, it is an undeniable fact that “sex sells”? I mean, we consider ourselves highly evolved, intellectual beings, right? So why do we remain under the power of such base instincts and primal forces? It’s because certain genetic traits still dominate human behaviour. Since the origin of the human species, there have been inherent characteristics that have been carried forward. These include innate survival instinct, a competitive nature, an impetus to grow and a constant drive to improve our surroundings and quality of life. When it comes to both ourselves and our environment, humans have always looked for ways to innovate (hey, we invented the wheel AND sliced bread). We have also consistently been attracted to those that make our lives better or more enjoyable in some way. Throughout time, chosen leaders were those that knew how to best thrive in a given environment and had the most to offer his (or her) followers.

Despite centuries of evolution, these basics have remained the same. Survival and success still come down to excelling in a certain setting. People are still loyal to those who offer them security, peace of mind and the best benefits. And not being able to adapt to a changing environment still means certain death.

“We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.” 

– Tupac Shakur

 

 

Adapt or Die – A Guide To Business Survival 

Ok so this would all be very nice if we were studying human biology and psychology, but what does it have to do with business? Well, businesses are not exempt from these fundamentals of nature. For a business to succeed, it also has to adapt to changing environments and consumer demands. Failure to do so leads to poor performance and, ultimately, the death of a business. One key area where businesses fall short relates to digital transformation. Statistics, studies and even companies’ own research show that consumers are increasingly moving towards digital and social media channels. Yet many organisations have still not adapted their business model in line with this change. They still use predominantly traditional methods and are reluctant to invest in social and digital media. This is impeding their ability to thrive and compete in a tough consumer landscape. These are some of the reasons why:

  • Natural Selection: Consumers will naturally choose the brands that best meet their needs and desires. Customer experience is becoming the key factor impacting purchase decisions. Consumers want the convenience, interactivity, personalisation and responsiveness offered by social media. Not giving clients what they want is likely to eliminate you as a natural choice from a consumer point of view.

 

  • Evolution: Life and business are all about innovation and progress. Social and digital media not only offer the opportunity and tools to move your business forward, they also provide valuable benefits. These include more cost-effective options, better success rates and higher return on investments. And it’s not just about marketing and advertising. Using digital methods can help with the evolution of your business as a whole, assisting with both growth and longevity.

 

  • Survival of the fittest: When it comes to business, it’s a dog eat dog world. The market environment is highly competitive, and therefore only the best will survive. You may not be on social media, but your competitors sure are. This means that they have a huge advantage in terms of visibility, reach and customer satisfaction, amongst other things. If you want to be an alpha wolf within your industry, you not only have to be on social and digital media, but also make sure that your presence is superior to that of your competitors.

 

  • Extinction: Businesses that have not yet embraced this brave new world of digitisation and social media could face possible extinction. Besides the risk of being annihilated by your competitors, you will simply get left behind. You don’t need to suddenly mutate your business into some high-tech monster, you just have to make simple changes to your processes and tasks. For example, adopt a multi-point strategy that includes social and digital media, adapting your existing operations in line with market trends and so forth.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that  survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

– Charles Darwin

 

Not the end…

… but the start of a new era.

Business and nature share certain fundamental characteristics that relate to success, growth and survival. One of the most crucial survival mechanisms is the ability to adapt to changing environments. The current business environment is highly consumer-driven, competitive and increasingly digitised. For businesses to succeed they need to evolve their processes to be in line with the current landscape at any given time. Failure to do so is likely to result to the eventual death of a business. And that, unfortunately, is just the nature of the beast we call business.

 

Need an ally to help you take on the challenging business landscape? Contact Social Media 101 – we dive into the shark tank and surface triumphant. Why? Because when it comes to social and digital media, we are the leaders of the pack.

CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101

Business Marketing: Social Media Influencers

Business Marketing: Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers, as the term implies, are entities that have some sort of influence or persuasive power on online audiences. This is achieved through amplifying content via various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Accounts with large followings are paid to promote brands via their posts on these platforms.

While the concept of brand ambassadors or endorsers is not new, what makes social media amplifiers different is that you don’t have to be rich or famous to become one – you just need to have a substantial audience base. However, a big account is not all it takes. Here’s a short crash course on the world of social media amplification.

 

What is Social Media Influence?

Social Media influence or amplification takes place when content is shared online within (and across) social media platforms. This includes both paid and unpaid (organic) sharing by stakeholders like your employees, your customers and your online audience. It also includes sharing by influencers such celebrities who may not even use your product or service but are paid to promote your brand online.

 

Types of Social Media Influence or Amplification

There are many categories and sub-categories of influencers online, but we will look at the three main types of amplification, namely: Social Media Influencers, Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification.

 

Social Media Influencers

The most well-known type of social media influence is endorsement by celebrities or people who are in the public eye. These include actors, musicians, sports stars, politicians, prominent business people, well-known thought leaders and other public personalities. Notable celebrity influencers include former First Lady Michelle Obama and pop sensation Selena Gomez. But, unlike most traditional brand endorsement, fame alone is not enough to make you a social media influencer. Celebrity or not, you still need a large online audience to your name. Conversely, if you are not well-known but you have a substantial online following, you can earn yourself “celebrity” status on social media purely due to your audience size. Some social media users are even “anonymous” yet get paid to endorse products or services. How is this so? Because it’s all about leveraging off the existing relationship between the influencer and their (sizeable) audience.

Micro-influencers are another type of social media advocacy. These are accounts that may not be huge but have a significant following within a certain industry or niche market. For instance, consider a food blogger that has an audience of a few thousand people. While this may not seem much in comparison to the major players, such a person has the potential to make a tangible impact within a given market. For example, by posting about the quality of food and service at a specific restaurant.

 

Employee Amplification

Employee Amplification (also known as Employee Advocacy) is a powerful yet somewhat untapped form of social media influence. It refers to harnessing the endorsement value and online presence of key employees. It starts with positioning your expert staff members as thought-leaders and trusted advisors within their field. The employees then act as passionate and knowledgeable brand ambassadors through their posts on their personal accounts, positioning the business in a positive light.  Not only does this boost desired public sentiment for the brand and the employee, but it also promotes extensive organic (free) audience reach through the employee’s personal audience as users are more likely to share content received via their own network than a business page. In fact, statistics show that company-based messaging reach is 561% higher when shared by employees as opposed to the business itself! (www.falcon.io). Click to read more on Employee Amplification.

 

Customer Amplification

We all know the importance of customer service, but the growth of social media has now exponentially increased the impact it can have on businesses. Your customers also have the potential to be brand ambassadors and influencers when it comes to your products and services. Brands can make the most of this opportunity by ensuring that positive customer experience is at the core of all business activities. Excellent business offerings, engaging social media content and responsive client-centric service is likely to result in your brand receiving glowing recommendations online. Think about personal experiences – if a business impresses with its quality of service or products, the user is more likely to talk about the experience with friends and family. The same applies to their online community. Only when it comes to social media, its word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. Not only is it great for promoting positive brand affinity, it also acts as free advertising through authentic client endorsement.

 

Implementing an amplification strategy

Navigating the social media influencer landscape can be tricky. Here are some points to keep in mind for a successful campaign:

 

Customer Experience

Creating great customer experience at all touchpoints (through advertising, in-store and especially social media activities) can promote loyalty and affinity for the brand. This then drives customer endorsement online.

Social media posts should be highly customer-centric and hold some sort of value for the user, such as informative, intriguing, attractive and high-quality content. This promotes customer engagement and sharing of the content – resulting in increased organic reach. Content should also be optimised for each platform as well as for mobile viewing to increase engagement and share potential. Responsiveness and personable communication are crucial elements of good customer service as well.

 

Incentives

While both Employee Amplification and Customer Amplification are driven by the users’ loyalty and passion for the brand, a little incentive doesn’t hurt. Employees can be incentivised (financially or otherwise) to publish posts about the business on their personal networks. Customers can also be encouraged to engage and share through polls, giveaways and rewards (such as accessing online resources).

 

Type of Influencer

Choose the type of influencer based on their strengths and how well it meets your objectives. For example, social media advocates like celebrities have extensive reach as well as influence over their audience. Micro-influencers can be highly valuable due to their niche (and usually highly-engaged) audience. Employee advocacy is an excellent way to position the brand and its employees as industry thought-leaders. And your customers can act as (unpaid) brand ambassadors that promote your business through their genuine love for the products and service you offer. 

 

Influencer Vetting & Content

When using the services of an influencer, you need to partner with people that are credible and genuinely resonate with your brand. You also need to do thorough due diligence to ensure that their audience consists of real, engaging human beings (as opposed to a bought audiences or bots). You are, after all, paying them based on the number of people a post from them is estimated to reach.

Also, it’s not as simple as just telling the influencer the product or service to pitch – you need to craft the actual post content in terms of your objective or, at the least, review and approve content prior to publishing. The digital community is a discerning bunch, so make sure your content has a level of authenticity. It’s also imperative that the influencer does not post messaging from competitors or publish contradictory posts (for example, tweeting about how amazing your restaurant’s steak is, and then the very next day mentioning her vegan lifestyle).

 

Training

Brands can send their employees on courses such as Personal Branding and Employee Amplification training to aid in positioning staff and executives as thought-leaders. Business decision-makers can also be equipped with knowledge regarding online risk mitigation and understanding social media data metrics – both of which are valuable when it comes to social media amplification. Beyond training, there are software systems that can be implemented to assist employees with resources, such as pre-approved content, from the company they work for. This improves efficacy of the content and cuts down on time taken to create content.

While there are pros and cons to social media influencers, the one thing that’s undeniable is the sheer impact it has on the business and consumer landscapes. And whether you “like” it or “unlike” it, it is certainly here to stay 😊.

 


Social Media 101 assists businesses in driving online influence, whether that be improving customer sentiment or sourcing, vetting and managing macro and micro influencers. We also offer training for: employee amplification, creating content and implementing software tools for an employee advocacy programme. Get in touch if your business needs influence and amplification. CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101. 

 

What to look for when choosing a social media agency

What to look for when choosing a social media agency

Hiring a social media agency remains unchartered territory for many businesses. What factors are important when it comes to finding the right partnership for your business? What separates a good agency from a great one? How do you know what to look for when choosing a social media agency? We have put together a collection of key aspects to consider when selecting your social media agency. Read on for insight and advice to help guide this critical business decision: 

 

References, recommendations & research

An excellent starting point is checking out an agency’s references. Who are their clients? What services did they provide these clients? Do they have case studies and testimonials? If so, take a look at these case studies and past services, including campaigns (where relevant). This will provide you with insight on whether the agency would be a good fit for your business based on your priority needs. It’s also a great idea to ask your own professional network for recommendations. People often only refer you to a business that they have had a good experience with themselves.

A bit of research on your part is also required. View the agency’s own social media platforms. Ok, so sometimes a business may neglect its own needs somewhat (I’m sure you’ve heard the term “the shoemakers kids go barefoot”). But you should be able to see the type of social media content they put out, the frequency of posts and if content is value-rich (not just salesy). You will also get a feel for the quality of the material they produce in terms of both visual appeal and engagement potential.

 

Means, motives & opportunities

Ensure that the selected agency has the means and resources to fulfill your business’s requirements. Do they have the internal resources, tools and systems to successfully manage your brand, along with their other clients? When enquiring about their capacity and capability, take into account future needs such as upscaling based on changing business demands. In addition to volume and expansion, well prepared agencies can cater to most, if not all, creative requests. For instance, supporting your entire digital presence and activities e.g. website optimisation, dynamic content, videography, animation etc.

Analyse their business model to find out what motivates their actions. While all agencies exist to make a profit, do they also take a client-first approach? For example, being agile; responsive and adaptable instead of having a rigid service structure.  Customer-centric agencies are flexible in matters such providing personalised solutions, being available outside of normal business hours and adjusting in accordance to varying client and market needs. An efficient agency will also continually look for opportunities to boost your brand. Not just when it comes to marketing, but also factors like business growth, increased market share and so forth. This type of above-and-beyond attitude creates a mutually beneficial relationship between your company and the agency.

 

Expertise, execution & ethics

Social media management is not simply about posting pretty pictures and nice words. It requires practical experience, industry knowledge and in-depth expertise. To be a potential candidate, an agency should have a team of experts, each a specialist in their field AND in social media. This includes graphic designers, copywriters and strategists skilled at creating content for social media. It also extends to the execution of social media activities and campaigns. The implementation of solutions should be done in a highly strategic way, taking into account social media best practices as well as your business and its clients. Skillful agencies understand the various elements such as timing, frequency, algorithms, audiences, design and specific nuances per platform.

The social media landscape can be a minefield if not managed correctly. Partnering with an agency with questionable ethics not only poses a financial risk, but a legal one as well. Not to mention the possibility of serious brand damage at the hands of an ill-equipped agency. This applies to the service they provide to you, as well as how they represent your brand on the public platforms. Consider their level of legal compliance, industry knowledge, business acumen and customer service quality. How to they respond to a negative comment or complaint? Do they have a crisis management plan? Are they knowledgeable about the various social media legal requirements?

 

ROI, results & reporting

Effective social media management should be result-driven and based on your business objectives. Before committing to an agency, find out what their internal KPIs are. Ask them how they measure the success of activities for their clients. Do they analyse and understand the metrics that matter? (Click to read more about social media metrics). In order for you to track the performance of your social media presence, you need an agency that is able to produce reports showing the relevant data sets. This will determine your return on investment, as well as promote informed business decision-making.

At Social Media 101, our aim is not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them. Consistently and continually. We would love to get to know each other better over a cup of coffee. CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with the Social Media 101 team.

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