Twitter Head of Marketing Michelle Slater provided practical guidance to help companies embrace the new era of customer care during her keynote presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2017 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in Toronto on March 30. In her presentation, "Customer Care in an Era of Always On, Anytime, Everywhere - Turning F Yous into Thank Yous," Slater described how companies can leverage anywhere, anytime customer feedback to drive ongoing business improvements.
Customer care in social media is growing, according to Slater. Meanwhile, this trend shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, and companies that fail to allocate the necessary time and resources to provide support via Twitter and other social networks may miss out on opportunities to extend their reach.
Twitter has already transformed the way millions of people connect with brands globally. The social network enables users to send 140-character messages directly to brands, and how companies respond may dictate customer loyalty and retention.
"We don't want to sound like robots. Regardless of whether you're on Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere, we don't want to lose that human connection."
Many companies commit substantial time and resources to market their products and services. Yet few businesses prioritize social media relative to customer care – something that may prove to be costly down the line.
Ultimately, social media may prove to be more valuable than marketing, Slater said. And if a company lacks the ability to respond to customer feedback via social networks, it may quickly fall behind its rivals in today's always-on, always-connected global marketplace.
"You shouldn't spend a single penny on marketing until you've got [social media] figured out," Slater said.
Furthermore, social media provides a cost-effective and valuable opportunity for brands, particularly in comparison to traditional call centers and email-based customer service.
"It's super expensive to have a big call center," Slated noted. "Email is a little bit cheaper, but social media is a heck of a lot cheaper."
Social networks may seem impersonal at first, but they empower businesses with the ability to build human connections. In fact, social media ensures companies can foster community expertise, leading to large groups of informed customers who will remain loyal to a brand for an extended period of time.
"I look at customer care as building a relationship with another human being, and eventually, that becomes a community of trusted advisors and trusted people who will give you insights and be a lot more loyal to your brand," Slater stated.
Perhaps most important, social media requires brands to address customer problems in real-time, and failure to do so could result in revenue losses and brand reputation damage.
"When somebody has a problem, it's a problem right now for your brand, and a customer wants an answer right now," Slater pointed out. "[Customers] want answers instantaneously, and this is going to get faster as more people adopt social channels."
Social networks provide transparency for both consumers and businesses.
"[Customers] want answers instantaneously, and this is going to get faster as more people adopt social channels."
A customer tweet is visible to everyone and can be distributed globally. This means a company that ignores an angry customer's tweet risks alienating large groups of customers; conversely, a business that responds appropriately and provides outstanding support to this tweet can stand out from its rivals.
"[Twitter] very much provides a one-to-one conversation, and it very much provides the potential for a conversation to be distributed," Slater noted.
Although social media requires an individual to use a mobile device or computer to send a message, companies should stay focused on the fact social networks drive human interactions.
"Even though you've got a computer basically talking to another computer, or a phone talking to another phone, there's still a human being on the other end," Slater said. "You're still going to have that human interaction with another person, and it's one thing to never lose sight of."
In addition, social media promotes conversations, and businesses must find ways to foster conversations with customers via social networks day after day.
"We don't want to sound like robots," Slated stated. "Regardless of whether you're on Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere, we don't want to lose that human connection."
Going forward, companies must prioritize social media relative to customer care.
A business that takes the time to connect with customers via social media can build customer loyalty and trust. This company will be able to handle customer issues and requests quickly, and as such, could gain a long-lasting competitive advantage.
Plus, a company that leverages social media can improve its brand reputation globally. This company will appear authentic in customers' eyes, Slater noted, and will be able to consistently provide its customers with the support they deserve.
"If you're positive and friendly, you're more approachable, and more people will want to do business with you," Slater indicated. "The authentic offer to help and the authentic voice can make such a significant difference [for businesses]."
Michelle Slater is an award-winning marketer, with 17 years of leadership experience in strategy development, consulting and execution within social, digital and traditional marketing disciplines for both B2B and B2C audiences. As the Head of Business Marketing at Twitter Canada, Michelle works closely with Fortune 100 companies to integrate Twitter into their marketing plans. Prior to joining Twitter, Michelle pioneered social media marketing at RBC. Michelle is an avid runner and volunteers at the Toronto Humane Society.