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Social Support - A Business Imperative

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					social support—
a business imperative
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contents




        1         intro
        2         the new consumer
        3         the evolution of social support
        4         social support today: integration
        5         next generation social support




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we 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 innovation


lithium.com | © 2012 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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intro




   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
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the 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.


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the evolution of
social 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.




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social support
today: 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.
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next generation
social 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 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 lithium.com, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our own brand nation – the Lithosphere.


   lithium.com | © 2012 Lithium Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: 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.