Mar 24, 2015

Customer engagement on social media is more than just an auto-reply

We all agree social media is no fad. Which is why companies must be careful how they use this powerful tool to build customer engagement. Too often, businesses underestimate social media, leading to actions they deeply regret, ones that leave a digital trail that can hamper their brand's reputation for a very long time.

To respond to the high volume of social media comments posted each day, many companies use automated responses for queries and customer service issues. Such automation can reduce the task of managing social media responses from several hours to a few minutes. What companies fail to understand is not everything can and should be automated. Too many major brands have succumbed to the temptation to automate every response. They must realize when and how to balance the need for efficiency with the need for effective personal engagement.

Companies trying to strike this balance must remember the objective of automation is not to eliminate work entirely but to accelerate effectiveness.

There are several cases of how an insurance company, a major bank, and several other corporations, in a bid to engage with customers, infamously failed in social media automation.

Companies do not realize that if social media is entirely or mostly automated then the business is missing the entire point of a social media presence. Social media is a conversation, and it takes two to sustain a meaningful conversation. Anything else is the same as a prerecorded message, or a radio or television broadcast.

Customer engagement is much more than a canned process. We have to use an approach in which we combine the right social media management technologies, social media analytics, and a robust response-management process to establish a social engagement (and listening) program.

Road map for executing an engagement program

  1. Identify the right skills: Identify and deploy social media experts with good technical and industry know-how capable of gauging customer sentiment and delivering expert customer service.
  2. Create an engagement rulebook: This will include an exhaustive list of engagement rules and response guides for social media channels covering possible scenarios.
  3. Identify the right engagement platform: Establish an enterprise-level engagement platform aligned to your social media engagement objectives and implementation strategy. Too often, companies making a tool-driven decision on social media engagement end up with failed engagement programs as their people and processes are not quite up to speed.
  4. Train the resources: Train the resources on the engagement rulebook and the new rules of engagement.
  5. Run with customers: Utilize human intelligence for accurate responses to customers' comments by relevance, content, sentiment, language, and context. Respond to positive/negative posts within a predefined period after they appear online.
  6. Create engagement and customer connect hub: Ensure that you seamlessly tie data from multiple customer touch points into a unified customer connect hub for actionable insights for related customer engagement and service processes so you can provide a uniform experience to your customers across channels—social, web, voice, or physical.

Author: Rajesh Rao Kari - Senior Manager, Solutioning, Genpact