Targeting Socially Loyal Customers: Part 1
First of two parts
Just about every business senses the need to develop a presence on Facebook and Twitter, the two goliaths of social media. Each has created a critical mass of users who individually have the potential to influence the attitudes, opinions and purchasing behavior of thousands. Businesses simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and not participate in these forums.
That’s why many businesses are coming at social media from a customer service angle. It’s completely logical to watch out for disenfranchised customers and attempt to make them happy again before they spread ill will about your brand or products. This alone is sufficient for retailers, CPG brands and many other classes of businesses to staff up their social customer service functions, often with new media-savvy professionals — not your typical customer service rep.
While it’s relatively easy to justify these investments today, in time I expect businesses will begin to question them. Customer service is a cost center without any expectation for revenue creation. As the current hype begins to subside, C-level executives are sure to wonder how these efforts can directly contribute revenue – not just prevent revenue loss.
Social Merges with Customer Service
It’s at that point when I think another challenge will emerge. With many bright, new media professionals being called to manage social customer service, I suspect they will start viewing their role as managing the company’s online Complaint Department. Right now, it’s a fascinating exercise to monitor the social universe and pre-empt discussions to steer customers to positive outcomes. But that will get tiresome for the professionals being recruited for these roles.
What happens next is that these positions become staffed with stereotype customer service reps who find as little joy in the exercise as they do in “punching in and out” each day. It will be unrealistically challenging to turn this department into a profit center – in fact, it will probably merge completely with traditional customer service. The “call center as profit center” has long been the mantra of CRM software vendors with mixed results, and it’s hard to imagine the same not happening with social media.Continued on the next page