How Customer Service via Social Media Channels Can Improve Online Reputation
Want to improve your organization’s online reputation? The answer may lie in improving your organization’s customer service via social media channels.
Whether it’s praising a company for a great service, venting frustration about bad service or seeking a response for help for a particular service issue, more and more consumers are turning to social media channels.
A study conducted by Research Now and commissioned by Twitter found that 61% of users surveyed see Twitter as the right environment to discuss customer service queries with brands. Forty percent of companies in the retail industry had recently used the platform for customer service; 33% for travel and 28% for telecoms, according to the study.
In another study focused on telecommunication brands, Twitter in partnership with TNS found that those who had received a response from a brand had almost 3 times higher brand preference than those who hadn’t received a response from a brand. The Twitter study also found that consumers are willing to pay an additional $20 or more to travel with an airline company that responds to their Tweet in less than 6 minutes.
According to Twitter, delivering great customer service via its platform “drives and builds customer loyalty”. The company said that 96% of users who turned to Twitter for customer service and had a friendly experience with a brand would buy from that brand again.
Social Media Servicing vs. Social Media Marketing
A study by J.D. Power showed that consumers see social media channels of businesses as a means to engage in customer service. The study found that 67% of consumers have used a company's social media site to engage in customer service (answering specific consumer questions or resolving problems), compared with 33% for social marketing (brand awareness and affinity).
A study by the American Express (PDF) found that consumers are increasingly impatient to wait for customer service via phone or in-person (at a retail store, at a restaurant or at a service provider's office).
The American Express study showed that 1 in 5 or 22% of consumers are only willing to wait less than 5 minutes on hold when they contact a customer service center by telephone, while average consumers are willing to a maximum of 13 minutes. In person, consumers are also willing to wait an average of 13 minutes for customer service help. The American Express study also found that over 1 in 5 or 23% of consumers have utilized social media to get a customer service response.
"Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Social media continues to grow rapidly, offering global consumers new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events and brands that matter to them,” Nielsen and NM Incite said in their Social Media Report. “The recent proliferation of mobile devices and connectivity helped fuel the continued growth of social media.”
The Nielsen and NM Incite report found that 33% of customers prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone.
The Research Now and Twitter study showed that consumers expect brands to respond quickly to their queries. The study found that 24% of users consider speed as the most important attribute for customer service on Twitter, while a quarter agreed that it’s important. Seventy-one of Twitter users expect a brand to respond to their query within an hour of Tweeting, according to the study.
“Twitter is about what’s happening now,” Twitter in the blog post "Customer Service on Twitter and the impact on brands" said. “That means when it comes to customer service, users expect brands to respond quickly.”
The Future of Customer Service: Chatbots
Responding to consumers’ queries on social media channels is time-consuming and needs more manpower. Many of the queries of consumers are also repetitive. To remedy these issues, brands have engaged chatbots. A very simplistic chatbot is the one that answers your call whenever you call a company’s hotline number. Think of the “Press 1 for …. Press 2 for …. Press for…” response.
Chatbots have come a long way. Their capabilities now go beyond simplistic responses. Facebook, for instance, launched in April 2016 the “bots on Messenger” – a platform that allows businesses to deliver automated customer support, from answering commonly asked questions to selling goods and services via Facebook Messenger.
According to Facebook, in just over two months after the launched of the bots on Messenger, over 11,000 chatbots were launched on Messenger and over 23,000 developers have signed up for Wit.ai's Bot Engine – platform offered by Facebook for developers to create customized chatbots.
For example, it’s now easy to request an Uber ride via Uber’s chatbot on the Facebook Messenger platform. There’s no need to open the Uber app. To request an Uber ride, you simply search “Uber” on Messenger, start a conversation, tap the car icon and then you'll be able to see a fare estimate along with your driver's name, vehicle make and model and license plate number.
As of November 2017, Facebook reported that 2 billion messages are sent and received between consumers and businesses each month via Messenger (including both automated and people-initiated) and there are 100,000 monthly active bots on the Messenger platform.
Facebook said 53% of users who message businesses via Messenger say they are more likely to shop with a business they can message. According to telecom company Globe, using a chatbot on Facebook Messenger provides meaningful and efficient customer service. The telecom company said it successfully increased employee productivity by 3.5 times and reduced calls to its hotline by 50%.
Given that Facebook Messenger has a wide reach, developing a chatbot for your company via the Facebook Messenger is worth considering. Your organization’s customized chatbot can create real-time and scalable customer service experience that feels personal for your customers. This modern way of connecting with consumers comes with a price though, including Facebook fees and the cost for the developer who’ll develop your organization’s customized chatbot for Messenger.
Is Your Brand Ready for Voice Search?
As the market for speakers with personal assistants heats up, voice search intensifies as well.
Smart Speaker Market
Even before Google entered the smart speaker market, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the middle of 2016 that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches.
In late 2016, Google joined the smart speaker market with its smart speaker called “Google Home”. This market was initially dominated by another tech giant Amazon with its smart speaker called “Echo”. Google Home’s personal assistant is called “Google Assistant”; Amazon Echo’s personal assistant is called “Alexa”.
Almost every tech company that has personal assistant like Microsoft (Cortana), Apple (Siri), and Samsung (Bixby) is developing a smart speaker. Just recently, Chinese internet giant Baidu unveiled its smart speaker called "Raven H". According to Gartner, worldwide spending on virtual personal assistant (VPA)-enabled wireless speakers will reach $2.1 billion by 2020, up from $360 million in 2015.
"A significant number of households could therefore have more than one unit, or even one per room," said Werner Goertz, research director at Gartner. "With smaller form factors, price erosion over the years and potential subsidization models, we expect that 75 percent of households with VPAs will have one, 20 percent will have two, and five percent will have three or more devices by 2020."
According to MindMeld, 61% of users had adopted intelligent voice assistants in the 12 months prior to October 2015. MindMeld found that the popularity of voice assistants has grown due to the hands-free feature, enabling many to do other tasks, in addition to conducting hands-free online search and online shopping as well.
The total global sales of smart speakers in 2017 is expected to reach 4 million units, with an estimated 60% of all smart speakers sold this year will run on Amazon’s Alexa platform, while Google’s Assistant will account for 20% of the sales, according to Strategy Analytics.
How Will Smart Speakers Change Consumer Behaviors
The widespread adoption of personal assistant-enabled speakers could result in an increase of online shopping orders initiated from a smart speaker instead of a laptop or mobile device, Gartner projected.
With Google Home, for instance, you can shop everyday essentials – from food supplies to toiletries. Shopping via Google Home can be done from participating Google Express retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market.
To shop via Google Home, you only have to say, for instance, “Ok, Google, order paper towels.” Setting up the shopping feature of Google Home can be done by going to the Google Home app, navigating to “More settings” and then scrolling down to “Payments.” From there, default credit card and delivery address can be set-up.
Google markets its personal assistant-enabled speaker to “understand your context – location, device you’re using, etc.” It currently understands English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and Korean.
According to Google, if, for instance, you decide to visit Vancouver, you can ask Google Assistant these questions:
Check the weather: “Ok Google, what’s the weather in Vancouver?”
Check flight schedule: “Ok Google, show me flights to Vancouver on Saturday”
Choose an adventure: “Ok Google, what should I do in Vancouver?”
Places to eat: “Ok Google, what are the best restaurants in Vancouver.”
"Vendors that are able to create an intimate, familiar relationship with the user will be able to contextualize ordering to the extent that preferred products will be proposed, and processing details will already be captured,” Gartner said. “As a result, the user's propensity to purchase products and services using VPA systems should increase, transactional friction could be reduced and the overall user experience would be improved."
How to Prepare Your brand for Voice Search
Given that voice search is a growing trend, here are some tips to prepare your brand for this technological advancement:
1. “Sounds Like” Issue
Comedian John Oliver and his staff created parody websites of the three major credit reporting companies EquifacksDOTcom for Equifax, experianneDOTcom for Experian and tramsonionDOTcom for TransUnion.
“It would clearly be a horrible thing if these actual companies were mistaken for these fake companies. But don’t worry – 95 percent of the time, that won’t happen. And apparently that’s good enough, right?” Oliver said.
While the parody websites of the 3 major credit reporting companies tried to get the message across that millions of people have their reputation tarnished because of major errors on their credit reports as a result of mistaken identity, this parody also showed that variations in pronunciation can affect voice search.
In voice search, take into consideration the variations in pronunciation for your brand name or key search terms. Add these variations of pronunciation to your keyword optimization strategy.
2. Rise in Longer-Tail Searches
In the last 2 years, there has been a rise of longer-tail searches. When people search online by typing words on their computers or mobile phones, shorter keywords are words. But in voice search, people tend to use longer-tail searches. For instance, if one wants to visit Vancouver, one may type in the search words “things to do Vancouver”. In voice search, people tend to use natural language like “What should I do in Vancouver”.
To improve your brand’s visibility via search results, ensure that you offer the closest answer to the voice query.
3. Question-Based Search Phrases
In voice searches, the queries tend to be in the question formats. Questions that start with the word “what” are fairly common. While voice queries expressed in question format may not immediately convert into sales, content that answers these questions could improve brand’s engagement and goodwill.
Anticipate the questions of your consumers by researching the most commonly asked questions about your brand or product and try to optimize answers for the natural language query version.
Artificial intelligence is now a reality within our midst through personal assistants like Assistant (Google), Alexa and Siri. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple and Baidu are continually optimizing their virtual personal assistants to better understand the natural language of humans. Don’t allow your brand to be left behind this modern way of reaching out to your customers – via voice search.
How to Reach Last-Minute Shoppers this Holiday Season
Mobile shopping might have given shoppers the opportunity to shop early for the holiday season, but this technological innovation hasn’t changed consumers’ old habit of procrastination.
It’s never too late to launch your online campaign for last-minute shoppers. According to Google, holiday shoppers redouble their online search to find stores open nearby once it’s already too late to ship.
Here are the top 3 approaches to reach out to last-minute shoppers this holiday season:
1. Target Relevant Keywords
Let’s take a look at the search words used by holiday shoppers as compiled by Google itself.
Use of Broad Search Words
While majority of consumers have something specific in mind when they use Google search, more than 40% of searchers still use broad terms like "living room furniture” or "women's athletic clothing".
Use of “Where to buy” Search Words
In the last 2 years, mobile searches for the keywords “where to buy” have grown more than 85%. Examples of these searchers include “where to buy gift boxes”, “where to buy cards” and “where to buy ugly Christmas sweater”.
On Christmas Eve of 2016, mobile searches for “where to buy Hatchimals”, “where to buy NES classic”, “where to buy Cards Against Humanity” and “where to buy coal” rose. The “where to buy” searches specifically peaked from Dec. 18 to Dec. 23 after the shipping cutoff.
Use of “[Fill in the blank] brands” Search Words
While shoppers have something in mind to buy, they’re open to different brands. During the 2016 holiday season, mobile searches for “[fill in the blank] brands” increased. Examples of these keywords include “makeup brands” (up by 150%), best purse brands” (up by 140%) and “men’s watch brands” (up by 70%).
Use of “Store hours” Search Words
Mobile searches for “store hours” also peaked on Christmas Day 2016, with top searches including “what grocery stores are open on Christmas”, “what stores are open near me on Christmas,” and “what stores are open right now.”
“[fill in the blank] to avoid” and “is [fill in the blank] worth it” Search Words
Consumers don’t only want to know about particular items, they also want to know what specific items or products to avoid. According to Google, mobile searches for “[fill in the blank] to avoid” have increased by 150% over the past two years, while mobile searches for “is [fill in the blank] worth it” have increased by more than 80% in the past two years.
The keywords provided by Google are just general guidelines of what holiday shoppers want. In choosing the best keywords for your online campaign, it’s important to make the keywords relevant to local searchers. Based on a Google study, 4 in 5 consumers conduct their online search with their location and proximity in mind.
2. Target Mobile Phone Users
Google has offered marketers the following relevant numbers about mobile-first shoppers:
A Google study showed that 76% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a local store within a day and 28% of those searches resulted in a purchase.
3. Use Omni-Channel Approach
A 2015 to 2017 study by YouTube – video sharing platform owned by Google – showed that “shop with me” videos have grown in popularity, with watchtime rising more than 10 times in the last 2 years on mobile alone. By watching these “shop with me” videos by random YouTubers, consumers tapped the opinion of others in deciding whether to visit your store or not.
The YouTube study also found that “store tour” videos have soared in popularity, with watchtime growing by over 10 times the past 2 years. With “store tour” videos, your customers can virtually explore your store prior to physically visiting the store.
Shoppers nowadays aren’t satisfied with text or still images alone. Consumers now want to know more about the product beyond the typical product specifications. This explains the amount of time spent watching those unboxing videos of mobile phones on YouTube. Consumers want to see videos about your products or your store. Videos may be time-consuming to make, but these compliment well with your other online campaign.
4. Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ad Campaign
The best way to save time and find last-minute holiday shoppers is through PPC campaign, in particular, Google AdWords as Google enjoys the biggest market share in terms of mobile searches.
These Google PPC numbers tell the story:
“Ultimately, showing up gets your brand in the game to be chosen, not just seen,” Google said. “By being there, your brand has the chance to address consumer needs in the moment, help move someone along their decision journey ….”
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