Let it be known: today’s consumers are different. Different in the most fundamental of ways: from the medium in which they choose to contact a business to their expectations of how that business reciprocates the engagement.
It starts at the heart of the millennial generation. With smartphones in-hand, they’re constantly connected with and participating in the bustling social networks they’ve become a part of. The device itself has become an extension of who they are – making friends, family and contacts easily accessible through text messages, social networks, photos and phone calls all at a moment’s notice. Laptops, tablets and other smart devices tell the same story of connectivity and engagement.
Businesses large and small, across multiple industries, from all sectors – and especially the customer contact centers that support them – are recalibrating their approach to customer care to meet the new, growing needs of what has become the 21st century consumer.
With today’s consumers already connected and active on multiple platforms, it’s important that companies are prepared to engage these consumers and do so quickly. According to a November 2013 study conducted at UCLA, 60% of customers expect a customer service response through social media within a few hours and as much as 17% expect a response within 15 minutes. Phone support remains the primary channel of customer care for most consumers, but other options like chat, e-mail and social are necessary to meet the level of service customers demand.
The benefits of being readily available via text, social, chat and e-mail go far beyond providing the highest levels of quality customer care. There are also substantial reputational and branding ramifications.
It’s due in large part to the speed in which information spreads. Simply put, the millennial generation likes to share content. They talk, they engage, and they broadcast experiences for all to see. So the reality is that a positive experience a customer has with a brand through its social media channels creates an incredible opportunity for that brand to acquire good publicity and build brand loyalty. Positive experiences will replicate themselves time and again if customer concerns are addressed and resolved consistently in a working, proven process.
In fact, 71% of consumers who experience a quick and effective brand response on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others, according to NM Incite’s Social Guide. That’s compared to just 19% of customers who do not receive a response.
Not long ago, a customer publicly posted to the Facebook page of a health and beauty product we represent. She had a poor experience with a customer service representative she spoke with and was also outraged by a recent billing charge on her account that she didn’t understand. She extended her frustration by posting on her own Facebook page as well, advising all of her contacts to avoid this company at all costs. With real-time alerts, our social media team was immediately notified and acted within two minutes.
From engaging the customer, we quickly learned of her poor experience while on the phone with customer support and the details of her billing inquiry that was never resolved to her satisfaction. Through social media, we fully alleviated her billing concerns with an empathetic and thorough explanation, for which she was enormously grateful.
The issue was then escalated to our rapid response team, where a supervisor in customer service called to apologize for her poor experience and advised her that the quality issue she experienced was being addressed. The supervisor took final actions on her account and e-mailed her the necessary information. We then sent the customer a follow-up message through Facebook to ensure her matter was entirely resolved.
A beautiful thing happened. On her own Facebook page, she not only took down the negative post, but tagged us in a new, positive post thanking us for the support.
The Bottom Line
Without a customer service presence through social media, rapid e-mails and a connected phone support operation, this doesn’t happen.
Had we needed to text the customer or had she initiated a live chat, we would’ve met her there as well. This is what it takes to meet the high demands of today’s consumers.
Those expectations are needs. They’re not going away and they’re only getting stronger. Customers want to text, chat, engage through social media and e-mail, they want fast response times, and they reward the brands that are consumer-centric and have taken the necessary steps to wholly advance the cause of customer satisfaction.