By Shellie Vornhagen, Chief Experience Officer at Emplifi
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world by storm, online shopping became increasingly convenient for consumers – so much that the UAE retail e-commerce market reached a record $3.9 billion in 2020, a 53% year-over-year increase, that is projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate to reach $8 billion by 2025. While this is a promising trend set to go from strength to strength, online shopping lacks a crucial element – the engagement factor. That’s where social care customer service and live-stream shopping comes in.
Today’s customer is digital-first – they engage with brands across a multitude of channels regardless of where they are in their journey. Filing a complaint or asking a question no longer requires a phone call. Customers can tweet the company, follow them on Facebook, or direct message via Instagram to receive social customer care, which is the act of providing customer support through social media. Many companies use social media to augment their call-based customer support activities by addressing complaints, answering questions, providing guidance, and even issuing refunds via social channels.
It’s important for brands to understand that customers do not only expect brands to offer social customer support through these channels, they also expect quick replies. According to Facebook for Business, 76% of people who message a business do so for customer service or support. More than 150 million people message businesses through Instagram Direct every month. That’s because 64% of people would rather message than call a business. Social media is the preferred customer support channel for those under 25, with 32.3% of them saying it’s their top choice. A recent report in the UAE also found that more than 20% of UAE consumers changed their banks within the past 12 months, with customer care being amongst the top reasons as to why – the report also highlighted that on a scale from 1 to 5, 4 was the average rating as to how important it is to be able to access customer care via WhatsApp or email. These statistics underpin the importance, and need, for excellent customer service, no matter the industry.
To provide effective social customer care, the top objective is to identify which comments need to be taken as a priority through social media listening, providing the attention they require, and addressing them quickly. Social media brand monitoring helps identify your customer questions and complaints, then automatically routes them into your CRM so agents can take action.
As customers dictate their own buying journey, the traditional linear sales funnel no longer works. Brands can only enable and influence journeys and this is done by leveraging insights, behavioral data, customer feedback, and technology to make sure they provide the best experience at each touchpoint on the customer journey.
A customer community, meaning platforms for customers, therefore brings all your potential customers, current customers, previous customers, ambassadors, and partners to one place. Basically, all stakeholders with a common interest so that you can get the most out of the relationship. The customer community is a powerful way to engage and keep your brand front of mind, and not to mention, the ideal environment for feedback, sourcing, and testing of new ideas.
At the end of the day, customer experience matters just as much as products and services, and as customer buying patterns evolve so must brands in order to accommodate their expectations and demands.