The social web is now all around us. And it has altered people’s behaviour and expectations. It has not only become normal for “digital natives” to obtain services and current information at all times using social media channels, compare features and expect responses to questions and criticism in chats, forums and timeline posts.
The bar for positive customer experience is very high here, because it is usually defined by global players, who have the required resources, budgets, and staff dedicated specifically to the task. And companies are no longer competing just within their own industries, but with all providers who are setting standards, providing the best service, the simplest process, and the fastest responses to customer requests. And they are doing this on an international scale.
Social media as the basis for customer dialogues requires too much of the company to just develop it using interns and let it run on its own alongside daily business. A solid concept is the first thing required for professional engagement. With this in mind, we recommend asking the following questions:
- Which objectives are to be achieved and how will achievement of these objectives be measured and evaluated? Of course, you shouldn’t just leave the field to the competition, but just being there for the game will not suffice either.
- How does the target group define itself and via which channels can it actually be reached? Is it really worth the effort to operate one’s own Facebook page or to build a community of Twitter followers?
- Do basic success factors such as an up-to-date web site exist, to which the interest gained through social media can be directed?
- How can simultaneous and possibly even autonomous social media activities from various company departments be pooled, synchronized and centrally managed? Which traditionally inward-focused departments might be included in the activities? And where is fundamental strategic rethinking required?
- Who actively and passively maintains the social media channels on an ongoing basis, ensures channel alignment with customer interests, and responds to incoming requests or even enters external discussions?
- Will the deployed manpower been supported by enough budget, training and backup solutions?
- Are there guidelines to ensure a uniform appearance in compliance with company standards?
Ultimately it is more crucial than ever for businesses to focus on the needs of their customers, enter authentic and appreciative dialogue, openly deal with their mistakes and develop “brand trust”. If they achieve this, they have made a decisive step into the age of digitalisation.