Today, consumers are more connected to technology while “on the go” than ever before. With over 95 percent of American adults owning a cellphone, 77 percent of which are smartphones, consumers can now connect to information from anywhere. As such, their shopping habits have also become much more mobile. At the same time, leading retailers have shifted from a brick-and-mortar approach to selling to a "click-and-mortar" technology-infused shopping experience. These trends combine to mean that social media is an increasingly important factor in retail brand differentiation. Consumers seek on-demand customer service as they shop both online and offline.
The influence of social and mobile has not only impacted how brands market to their customers, but also how consumers interact with retailers. Customer-centric retailers are leveraging social media to quickly and efficiently respond to customer comments, questions and reviews, capitalizing on the opportunity to build relationships with customers by reaching them through their preferred networks. The difference between brands that are successfully leveraging social media to respond to customers is especially evident on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. There are proven results to a successful social engagement strategy. Social media responsiveness is directly tied to revenue: When companies are able to successfully engage and respond to customers via social, those customers spend 20 percent to 40 percent more with them.
Your customers are increasingly mobile. A report from the Pew Research Center indicates the likelihood to purchase via a mobile device was nearing 50 percent as of 2014, and that likelihood has continued to grow. However, the adoption of digital interactions between brands and their customers isn't just limited to shopping and purchasing. In fact, JD Power & Associates reports that 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media site for service, compared with 33 percent for social marketing. Brands like Francesca’s, Nordstrom, Zappos and CVS are already taking advantage of the engagement opportunities channels like Facebook and Twitter provide. It's important to have a social media customer service strategy in place that allows you to serve customers on social. Here are four examples of retailers using social media to achieve powerful results.
No Excuses for No Replies
Shoppers have high expectations for online customer care, and the ramifications of failing to deliver on those are huge. Gartner research found that failure to respond to customers on social channels can lead to a 15 percent increase in churn rate. But it's not just enough to reply — retailers must create helpful and engaging experiences whenever interacting with customers, both in person and online. Ultimately, customers who experience positive social media interactions are reported to have higher retention rates.
Response Times Matter
Part of creating an effortless customer service experience is responding to customers quickly. Studies show the majority of customers expect brands to respond to them on social channels within an hour. When customers reach out for service only to wait hours, days or weeks for a reply, they're more likely to be disloyal. If your competition is replying faster than you are on Twitter and Facebook, you need to focus on improving response times.
Get Your Customers Real Answers
According to Forrester, 55 percent of people say they're very likely to abandon an online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question. If your brand is monitoring social media and replying quickly, focus on fully resolving customer issues. For retailers, this provides an opportunity to influence purchasing decisions and increase customer spend through helpful and friendly interactions.
Today’s consumer has many more options, and the competition for their money is greater than ever. When customer support and engagement is executed effectively on social channels, it results in effortless service engagements and increased customer happiness, inspiring lifelong shoppers. Ultimately, the decision to provide digital customer care is one that every retailer will have to make.
Krysta Gahagen is a product marketing manager at Sparkcentral, an enterprise social customer engagement platform.