Social Support - A Business Imperative


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20 years ago, social support was a cutting edge business practice. 10 years ago, it was a forward - thinking operational strategy. Today, it's a business imperative. The cycle of innovation in social media today is screaming fast and still accelerating. With each advance, our customers will only become less patient, more demanding. Social customers today expect support from us on Facebook and a response from us when they Tweet about our brand - and they don't care about our internal siloes. They expect a unified, positive experience at every touch point and they can do plenty of damage to our brand through social media if they don't have one. Jumping onto the social support train is now a business imperative. We can't afford not to board if we expect to compete in the next generation.

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Social Support - A Business Imperative

  1. 1. social support—a business imperative
  2. 2. share this whitepapercontents 1 intro 2 the new consumer 3 the evolution of social support 4 social support today: integration 5 next generation social support subscribe to request a demo SocialMatterswe help companies unlock the passion of their customers.The Lithium Social Customer Suite allows brands to build vibrant customer communities that: reduce service costs with grow brand advocay with drive sales with innovate faster with social support social marketing social commerce social | © 2012 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved 2
  3. 3. share this whitepaperintro Social support is the use of social channels—forums, blogs, thought possible. We need their input, feedback and problem social networks and other social media—to supplement or solving capacity to scale our support function properly. replace traditional customer service and support channels. Resource optimization. Business comes in peaks and valleys. If your organization hasn’t invested in it, you’re going to be When peaks are created by market conditions, new product playing catch-up—it’s been around for 20 years now. Even introductions, even natural disasters, we find our traditional before the public Internet cranked into high gear in the mid- support channels overwhelmed and slow to respond. Social nineties, smart brands were reaching out to digital customers support gives us the opportunity to service those peaks without and developing support communities over commercial over-building our service function in order to meet them. services like Compuserve and AOL. Increased revenue. Interestingly enough, when we service With its 20 year history, among all the business uses of the customers wherever and whenever they want, they buy more. social web, social support is one of the most established and Customers who use social support channels buy more, buy mature areas of practice. The list of companies today saving more often and stay our customers longer than those who millions annually deflecting service calls while increasing don’t use social support channels. customer satisfaction at the same time is impressive— Autodesk, Best Buy & AT&T to name a few. Social support Social support has helped businesses to provide service at has proven itself to be both better and faster than traditional scale, weather the peaks and valleys of service demand with support channels, adding significant dollars to the bottom less pain, and even drive revenue for two decades. It’s been lines of those brands that have leapt in. a smart business decision that yields impressive ROI for some time. But in this digital and social age, social support And call deflection is only part of the story. When companies has become far more than just smart business. It’s become first undertake social support efforts, they usually initiate about survival in the face of an increasingly demanding and it as a cost savings measure, but quickly find a number of impatient consumer. added benefits: Scalability. As products continue to get more and more complex, smart social brands find great benefit in tapping the crowd for customer experience knowledge. Real customers will use our products in many more ways than we ever Real customers will use our products in many more ways than we ever thought possible. We need their input, feedback and problem solving capacity to scale our support function properly. 1
  4. 4. share this whitepaperthe new consumer bad customer experience is costly 57% No matter how fantastic our products are, if our customers don’t have positive experiences at every point of interaction with our brand, they take their wallets elsewhere. Any of consumers are not likely to spend more money way we look at it, delivering a poor support experience is with a brand after a negative experience an expensive miss—57% of consumers report they are unlikely to spend more money with a brand after a negative experience. Worse yet, since the explosion of social media, 40% of consumers others away likely to steer say they are after a negative brand experience their dissatisfaction has the capacity to spread like a virus. In addition to taking their shopping dollars elsewhere, 40% of consumers say they are also likely to steer others away from a brand after a poor experience.1 The good news is, your social customers want to help. They’re already coming to the web for answers. 63% of consumers Moreover, it’s getting harder to meet those expectations. 47% are searching online for others like them when they need help of consumers expect service within 24 hours.2 Brands today today, and that number is only going to climb. The transition find deep challenges with scaling the most basic service and to self-service is well under way. The phenomenon of peer- support, let alone meeting the expectations of an amazingly to-peer support is already strongly rooted in today’s culture— demanding audience. business just has to jump in and make that peer-to-peer experience better. 20 years ago, social support was a cutting edge business practice. 10 years ago, it was a forward-thinking Because great customer experiences pay killer dividends. operational strategy. Today, it’s a business imperative. 54% of consumers say that greater than one quarter of the value they feel from consumer experiences is from the overall experience they have with a company. 50% of consumers are great customer experience pays dividends likely to recommend a company through their online social 47% of consumers say they are likely to networks after a good experience. 47% say they are more likely to spend more with brands after they have positive experiences. spend more with brands after they have positive experiences. If we can deliver a positive support experience, we have a much greater chance of having satisfied customers, getting the benefit of word of mouth marketing, and having of consumers are likely to recommend a 50% company through their online social networks after a good experience. repeat customers. 2
  5. 5. share this whitepaperthe evolution ofsocial support So, what’s going on under the hood? How does social support Wave 2: Better Access, Greater Availability, work exactly and how does it create so much value? Better Content Organization The second major evolutionary step for social support was to Put simply, it’s much less expensive to have customers begin looking for ways to increase the active use of customer helping customers, than employees helping customers. When forums and support communities. We began to think about businesses invest in social support, they put together the providing easier interface to the community and simplifying infrastructure—both the technology and the methodology— the process of asking for help. We developed social apps that lets customers help each other. Over the past 20 years, like Q&A widgets to make help more accessible from pages the advance of that infrastructure has developed in a series throughout the website, not just on community and support of cumulative waves. Each new technology or methodology pages. Today, social customers routinely use Q&A widgets builds upon, adds to previous conventions rather than from product, portal and home pages. replacing them. Also in Wave 2, we began to think about how support content Wave 1: Cultivation might live outside of the threaded discussion box. We started In the first wave of social support, we saw the appearance to organize our content in more familiar and meaningful of customer forums. These were places online, most often ways. We delivered more page-oriented experiences and found through search engines, where customers could find populated them with more robust content. We began to create other folks like them, openly discuss their service issues knowledge bases—searchable repositories brimming with and receive help from one another. This wave was about not tips, tricks, answers, solutions and advice. only getting those forums built, but in developing a sense of community around them. This was the birth of the online Wave 3: Extension customer community, when brands first pioneered the use With the arrival of social media, customer experiences started of social media to connect with their social customers. happening in more places than just the website. When social Forums are still a fundamental building block of the most customers needed their questions answered, they began to sophisticated social support systems today. look for our brand presence across the larger social web. In the 3rd wave of the evolution of social support, we went offsite, enabling social support on public social networks like Facebook and Twitter. 3
  6. 6. share this whitepapersocial supporttoday: integration If there is one word that defines cutting-edge social support Integrated “Outside-in” Culture. today, it’s integration. Today’s social support leaders are Brands that approach customer experience—social deeply integrating social support across all manner of web included—as a way of doing business are winning big today. experiences, with internal business systems and processes, An “outside-in” culture thinks in the customer point of and into their corporate culture. view and brings that point of view into the business as an organizing principle. As such, outside-in business cultures Web integrations. are capable of understanding the complex, interdependent From single sign-on to federated search, the most successful relationships our customers have with the whole of our social support offerings today are making peer-to-peer business, not just with our front-line employees. These support experiences more available and easier to use from forward thinking innovators are breaking down customer anywhere and everywhere social customers might be. With experience into its component parts and aligning each of smart integrations, forward-thinking brands are embedding those parts to business metrics. In doing so, they become social content on Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices, more integrated, less siloed, and begin practicing customer bringing the value of peer-to-peer interactions to as many experience improvement as an integrated business discipline. customer experiences as possible. Business system integrations. Brands at the top of the social support game today capture social customer integration data and leverage it across every aspect of the business from service to sales to PR to The brass ring for the most leading- product marketing. Especially in the practice of CRM are top edge social brands today is to use social performing brands today reaping enormous ROI by using customer interaction data to move beyond technology, traditional process automation, and established experimentation and to create repeatable, workflows to bring social customer data into the fold and measurable, high-quality experiences. create real business change. Things like bringing business issues reported through Twitter into Salesforce, appending customer records accordingly, and using business logic to route, respond and auto-escalate where needed. The brass ring for the most leading-edge of social brands today is to use social customer interaction data to move beyond experimentation and to create repeatable, measurable, high-quality experiences. 4
  7. 7. share this whitepapernext generationsocial support What’s on the horizon? Social support leaders will continue We can only expect the competitive climate in today’s to make peer-to-peer support easier to find and use both economy to become increasingly fierce. The cycle of on-domain and off. They’ll deliver more real-time, more innovation in social media today is screaming fast and still personalized experiences. We’ll see a greater merge of direct accelerating. With each advance, our customers will only support with social, as agents have access to social data right become less patient, more demanding. Our customers expect in the call center. We’ll see deeper and more diverse roles support from us on Facebook, a response from us when they for superfans, the 1% of our most deeply engaged social Tweet about our brand and they don’t care about our internal customers who contribute the majority of content. We’ll siloes. They already expect the whole thing to be a unified, see increased informal employee participation in support positive experience and they can do plenty of damage to our communities, greater integration of support and marketing brand online if they don’t have one. Jumping onto the social and an increased focus on social innovation as we tap our support train is now a business imperative. We can’t afford social customers for ideas and insights. not to board if we expect to compete in the next generation. resources 1 Kelton Research consumer survey, 2012 2 Social Business Advantage in 2012, CMO Council Lithium social software helps the world’s most iconic brands to build brand nations—vibrant online communities of passionate social customers. Lithium helps top brands such as ATT, Sephora, Univision, and PayPal build active online communities that turn customer passion into social media marketing ROI. For more information on how to create lasting competitive advantage with the social customer experience, visit, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our own brand nation – the Lithosphere. | © 2012 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved 5