Social Support with Online Communities


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Customers are no longer content to passively consume your advertising. They want to engage in conversations with your brand and they don't care what department they reach. They want to dialog with your brand whenever and however they choose. They want the companies they buy from to be responsive, to acknowledge and reward their feedback, and provide all these experiences quickly, cohesively and in an engaging way. The social media revolution has irrevocably changed the way people communicate—with each other and with the brands they purchase and support. The good news/bad news is that while 80% of CEOs report that getting closer to their customers is a top priority, they remain unclear on exactly how social media can help them get there. The question of whether your businesses should engage with customers using social media has been answered with a resounding "yes!"

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Social Support with Online Communities

  1. 1. social support withonline communitiesreorganizing around the social customer for business advantage
  2. 2. share this whitepapercontents 1 intro 2 why social support 3 what is social support 4 why you need peer-to-peer engagement 5 successful social support solution must-haves 7 summary 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 Customers are no longer content to passively consume with brands across social media is to find customer service your advertising. They want to engage in conversations with —a figure that is expected to grow enormously in the next 12 your brand and they don’t care what department they reach. to 24 months. Gartner predicts that social CRM will be a $1 They want to dialog with your brand whenever and however bill market by 2012 they choose. They want the companies they buy from to be The good news/bad news is that while 80% of CEOs report responsive, to acknowledge and reward their feedback, and that getting closer to their customers is a top priority , they provide all these experiences quickly, cohesively and in an remain unclear on exactly how social media can help them engaging way. get there. And they’ve discovered they can get much of it by interacting The question of whether your businesses should engage with each other through social networks. They’re blogging with customers using social media has been answered with and Tweeting about your promotions and campaigns, helping a resounding “yes!” Today’s most successful social brands each other with common questions, solving product issues are tapping into the power of social media to build not only and sharing ideas and enthusiasm for your brand across closer customer relationships, but brand nations—places social media every day. where customers can connect with and support each other, The social media revolution has irrevocably changed the influence your products, share their enthusiasm for your way people communicate—with each other and with the brand and carry its flag out into the world on your behalf. brands they purchase and support. Thirty-seven percent of consumers now report that the primary reason they interact how consumers use social media Consumers report that after connecting with a brand through social media, they • feel a sense of trust with the brand • feel like an insider with the brand, and 18% 37% 74% • feel that the company cares about them. of consumers now of consumers use of consumers state that begin the path to social media for they prefer to engage purchase through customer service with the brand through social media social media after making a purchase 1
  4. 4. share this whitepaperwhy social support the business value of social customer solutions Customer expectations today are enormous and social customers especially are fully empowered to make significant Social media technology gives companies demands upon the brands they engage. The old adage that access to previously untapped value in customer one dissatisfied customer tells ten others takes on new generated content and the brand advocates meaning on a platform like Facebook where your customer’s that produce it. Here are things top brands voice could very well now reach millions. are motivating their customers to with social customer solutions: Today’s top brands aren’t simply adapting to the disruptive force of social media, they’re embracing it whole hog. Innovate: Collectively, your customers know as They’re rethinking traditional support strategies at the speed of innovation and re-engineering the kinds of customer much or more about your product usage than relationships they want to develop, centering them on you do. They have terrific ideas for product collaboration and engagement. improvements and new capabilities. Promote: The web is a giant word-of-mouth megaphone for your customers. Listen to them, acknowledge and reward their input, amplify their voices and they can create a groundswell of support for your brand. Support: Peer-to-peer support, often one of the first social initiatives for many companies, is one of the best ways for social customers to get answers—and often the preferred service channel—resulting in significant savings from call deflection. 2
  5. 5. share this whitepaperwhat is socialsupport Imagine a conversation about your company’s products on Twitter: @brandcop145: Does #widget come with good service? A customer advocate takes note and tweets the thread in reply. @WidgetFun: @brandcop145: check out what the #widget community has to say: You social marketing manager sees the question in the Twitter feed and brings the question into your company’s forum, where other community members can respond. Now, you own the all the data generated around the question and Social support—building unassisted support channels anyone who follows your company has access to it. through social media—works so well because it scales so well. Enabling social customers to help each other vastly @brandcop145 visits the Widget Fun customer community extends the reach of your service arm at minimal cost. But, and not only sees how others have answered his question, but simply plugging social channels directly into your service can also have deeper conversations—ask specific questions organization won’t get you there. and get answers from experienced users. The ability for social customers to support each other is wholly dependent upon the underlying customer network that binds them. Without a critical mass of customer advocates—a passionately engaged brand nation—the integration of your listening technology, your CRM system and your community platform won’t do much to drive real business outcomes. 3
  6. 6. share this whitepaperwhy you needpeer-to-peerengagement To derive real value from the conversations happening Winning companies are embracing the social revolution and across your customer network—to turn them into something reorganizing themselves around the new social customer— meaningful and productive—the first task at hand is to enable the empowered, impatient, vocal and very giving social them to talk to each other. customer. These companies are better engaged with their customers not only one-to-one, but also in the increasingly The problem lies in the fact that when it comes to today’s social important peer-to peer, many-to-many venues where their customers, most support systems are inside out. Designed customers now live and breathe. Peer-to-peer engagement with the company’s needs in mind, for the agent or the gives them the opportunity to turn good customers into manager looking for a sales optimization report, businesses better ones and the best customers into full-fledged brand are missing opportunities to connect with customers who want advocates—their most passionately engaged superfans. to engage in relationships with their brands in meaningful Those who build brand nations with more superfans than ways—across every level of the organization. their competitors are gaining unparalleled advantage. For every one-to-one conversation between the company and a customer or prospect, the company is missing hundreds or even thousands of conversations between customers, influencers, and prospects. The social web is forcing those who care about customer relationships to expand their thinking beyond the optimization of a two-way relationship between the brand and the customer and find ways to enable simultaneous relationships between the customers themselves. 4
  7. 7. share this whitepapersuccessful socialsupport solutionmust-haves Social support—the point at which online customer 2. User profiling and reputation management communities, social networks, and traditional customer service meet—is growing up. In order to meet the growing list of The ability to identify and cultivate those who will amplify your demands your social customers are making on your brand (and brand message—your advocates, influencers and superfans— that your competitor is satisfying, by the way), brands must is crucial. both build their own social presence and reach out across the But before you can mobilize your advocates, you have to find larger social web. out who’s talking and know what they’re saying. Social media, Here are the must-haves for a successful social by its very transparent nature, is of tremendous assistance support solution: to companies in the perpetual quest to know and market to their customers better. Through social media, not only can 1. An online community companies listen to their customers, they can also observe how they behave in social situations, measure their impact in An online community is your brand’s beachhead in the social the marketplace, and connect with them directly. web and a jumping-off point for future inroads. Now, more than ever, reputation matters. In the world of It’s the cornerstone of a social support solution—a business Social CRM, a good customer is no longer the one who tool that encourages participation and interaction among buys the most. A reputation system that identifies the most social customers who don’t know one another. Online active contributors lets marketers easily reward members’ communities help brands to get social customers to trust participation and nurture their positive behavior. each other, help each other and advocate for your brand. Community is at the heart of all social customer solutions A reputation management system is also essential to enable because the community is the means by which customers content consumers—who far outnumber content creators— become brand citizens. to separate the useful from the non-useful and categorize content as relevant and trustworthy, immediately adding value The most common online communities include forums, blogs, to otherwise anonymous advice or reviews. Networks like chat, idea exchanges, and wikis. Online community members Yelp and eBay thrive on user reputation. A strong reputation typically use social bookmarking, tagging, RSS feeds, and fosters trust among the community members and makes the search to organize and access the community content they’re individual more influential. most interested in. 5
  8. 8. share this whitepaper3. Social Web Integration 4. CRM integrationYou already have a customer network. Conversations about Simply showing up and listening is not enough. Successfulyour band and products are happening on Facebook, on social support systems are based on strong ties from theTwitter, and on hundreds of similar social sites every day. And social web to the company’s internal processes, allowing allmore and more of them will continue to happen regardless of parts of the enterprise to take action.whether or not your brand joins in. Today’s most competitive brands are not simply capturingThe most successful social brands today are so because they marketing feedback, but acting upon it. They’re folding allare not only listening to but diving headlong into these social the valuable data they glean from social media into theircustomer conversations with gusto. They listen, acknowledge, business processes, knowledge stores, sales prospecting, andrespond, reward, explore and engage their social customers marketing automation tools.wherever they are—in online communities, on Facebook andTwitter, and through mobile devices. In the process, they’re 5. Actionable analyticstapping a veritable gold mine of business intelligence— The most social competitive brands look for data-drivenspontaneous, unsolicited market feedback—which gives them insights that point to trends and optimal paths to ROI.the capability meet customer needs, improve satisfaction,to build long term customer loyalty and maximize customer In the fast-evolving world of the social web, companies arelifetime value. constantly iterating on their social engagement practices, trying new strategies and learning from both their successes and failures. Solid analytics are essential for all of the varied stakeholders in the enterprise to measure the effectiveness of their programs and to make course corrections as needed. All of the interactions that occur in a community are generating a gold mine of data for the company. In the hands of people who can act on it immediately, this data gives companies a tremendous competitive advantage. The close proximity that companies have to their own community data lets them respond to rapidly shifting conditions at web speed. 6
  9. 9. share this whitepapersummary A social revolution has changed the way people communicate— Social customer conversations will continue to create buzz— with each other and with the brands they purchase and good or bad—regardless of whether or not brands join in. A support. In the wake of this revolution, customers are no social support solution taps into the enormous latent value in longer content to be passive consumers of advertising; instead, social customer networks and turns them into brand nations: they want to engage in a conversation with their brands. They An online community of empowered social customers who want the companies they buy from to be responsive and to willingly support and assist each other, enthusiastically rally acknowledge their feedback. around your brand and your products, and give you feedback that helps you keep your competitive advantage. resources 1. 2. be-1-billion-in-2012/ 3. GBE03391USEN.PDF Lithium social solutions helps the world’s most iconic brands to build brand nations—vibrant online communities of passionate social customers. Lithium helps top brands such as AT&T, 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 7