The Digital Enterprise Gives Power To The People

You can Skype or video-conference colleagues on different countries every day; use Tweet Deck and Twitter to keep up to date with market trends and news announcements. BYOD means you can manage multiple email accounts on your smartphone and coordinate with your colleagues and professionals on any device on-the-go. You launch a brand on Instagram, create a community on Facebook, hold ‘hangouts’ on Google+, order a taxi with an app and watch your calorie intake (on Brian Butterfield’s Saturday treat day) using a wristwatch. In this new interactive economy, social media is the consumer’s  mecca. But access to such a plethora of touch points also means consumers have more ways than ever to put brands under their critical lens, sharing and challenging companies’ stories on the one hand, while also demanding that brands be insightful and know what our needs are no matter what or how many channels we’re interacting on.

So in reality, brands no longer hold the power to drive their company and brand messaging – their customers do. Brands need to have a single view of their customers.

I was interested to learn in the PRCA Digital PR report that only 56% of brands are using social media, predominantly Facebook and Twitter, for customer service. Although this number has grown 5% on last year and is predicted to rise year on year, it struck me that it the potential social media holds for companies to offer consistent, seamless and personalized customer care, via their community managers, is not yet fully realized. Social media has moved on to become more than emergent platforms for a company’s marketing, and are now valid and important channels where consumers solicit and receive customer service. “Customer care” as a concept is not new, but what is growing the level of expectations every year – they want a seamless experience that starts at the store and carries on through to their Twitter feed. Social media is the top internet activity globally, so B2B and B2C companies need to recognize that fast but more importantly, personal responses are what’s needed for a great customer experience and in turn, a great brand experience.

Clearly, brands who want to stay ahead of the curve – or even simply keep up with the competition – should be doing much more than just a Twitter feed or email marketing to mobilise their consumers. When your consumers feel engaged, they will be loyal and more importantly, they will refer you; they become brand advocates. Word of mouth is still a golden opportunity, and that means community mangers and CRMs need to be focused on actively listening, engaging and responding to consumers to build that deeper level of intimacy- Because a missed opportunity means lost revenue.

We know the customer is ‘always on’, but do companies have the technology to support good customer care and engagement to match this? Proactive engagement with your fans and your consumers shouldn’t be considered an add-on to a brand’s social strategy, because it should be a culture lead from the top down so CRMs and community managers can feel empowered to be proactive and act when a good opportunity strikes.

Elaine Lau, Senior Account Executive, Creative Strategy & Technology