Support Forums The Core of Social Customer Care

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Support Forums The Core of Social Customer Care Powered By Docstoc
					support forums:
the core of social
customer care
        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.




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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


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your community
   Ready to be a
shouldn’ttake social media to the next level?
   Looking
hostage for a way to jumpstart your social
   CRM program? Consider integrating support
     and knowledge communities into your social
     technology effort.                                            The answer may surprise you, for two reasons. First, consider
                                                                   the path to advocacy, the process through which an ordinary
     Social media-based marketing programs, typically built
                                                                   customer is raised to super fan status. It doesn’t happen in
     around outreach and scheduled outbound communication,
                                                                   conventional marketing alone, because advocacy is driven not by
     are one element of the marketing effort in savvy
                                                                   a promise made, but by a promise kept. That means operations.
     organizations. Fishing where the fish are (Facebook just
     surpassed 1 billion members worldwide) makes a lot of         Second, that promise-keeping technology isn’t found in
     sense, especially when highly targeted advertising based on   your brand outposts: it’s found in the interaction between
     verified demographics that were only dreamt of 10 years ago   customers that is facilitated by those outposts.
     is within the reach of any marketing professional.
                                                                   What’s this mean in plain terms? It means that a well-built
     But beyond outreach, what do you do? How do get the fish      support forum can be a powerful marketing tool. Expand
     into the boat?                                                the definition of “marketing” to include all forms of brand-
                                                                   building communication: outreach, advertising, and pre-sales
                                                                   experiences are clearly part of this. But so are post-sales
                                                                   experiences (which typically outnumber pre-sales over the
                                                                   customer lifetime) like service requests, resale/renewals, and
                                                                   requests for referrals or recommendations.




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These are all driven by the same thing: customers sufficiently     The challenge of meeting customers’ increasingly
delighted by past experiences that they are willing to seek        sophisticated service needs arises as customer acceptance
help when the inevitable issues arise, to re-up for another        of forums grows: the unwary brand can find itself quickly
year, or to offer via their social graph their positive comments   disintermediated by failing to capture customer knowledge in
for others to consider.                                            a branded support environment.

At the center of the support process—driven by the social          Moreover, empowered customers are significantly more
web, customer empowerment, and the diverse experiences of          likely to talk in highly connected social channels about
customers—is the support forum. Unlike a telephone-based           their experiences with your brand, product, or service. That
process, the support forum is a ready-when-you-are, 24/7           means you need to be prepared to participate—at scale—and
source of information.                                             to ensure that your customers see you or your brand as
                                                                   responsible for their satisfaction.
To be sure, there are some issues—getting a seat on a plane
or securing a return authorization—that require an agent.          If you want an interesting insight into the development of
Successful firms have invested billions of dollars in creating     early, innovative customer care platforms, check out Chapter
great agent-based service experiences. At the same time,           15, “Beyond the Status Quo” in Howard Schultz’ “Onward.”
customers not only want to answer questions themselves but
                                                                   Today, most brands are in effect playing catch-up: they’re all
to also cover more situations and get the information they need
                                                                   over the social web with marketing programs but are just
at a lower cost. That’s good for your business on all counts.
                                                                   now connecting the dots with operations and customer care.
                                                                   And they are discovering it’s really hard work. Integrating a
                                                                   support forum into a marketing program is — let’s be honest
                                                                   — easier said than done.

                                                                   Traditional advertising combined with “800”-based service
                                                                   agents means that customers hear your message—and
                                                                   only your message—across all touch points. That makes
                                                                   consistency easier but also gives your customers the least
                                                                   flexibility when seeking information.




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Decoded, that means they turn to the web and compare             That community will provide more than answers, too: it will
you with what is available via search. That’s hard enough to     drive innovation, it will provide defense in times of crisis, and
compete with, and even harder to win against. Yet, building      it will give you a platform on which to test new ideas. Built
“social” into your care program is fast becoming the new front   around the needs of your customers, support forums can be
in the push for business success.                                the ultimate anchor point for your social marketing program.

Opening up the brand and participating on the social web         As you scale up and build your social web presence, be sure
addresses the challenges of traditional approaches to            to consider the role that a support forum can play: helping
business: by being present and participating on the social       customers help themselves to a better experience, with your
web you “become part of the action” and customers become         products and services, in a context where sharing comes
less likely to “seek the truth” on the social web and instead    naturally, can be just the ticket to winning on the social web.
come to you with questions.

Sure, smart consumers still actively research using search,
but to the extent they see you as an ally they are checking
options rather than looking for an alternative. Every edge
helps in modern marketing, and being perceived, as a partner
is a big edge.

Extending your social marketing into support by integrating a
support forum is a logical step. By giving customers a place
where they can interact and share questions and answers
with other customers you’re inviting customers to bind
themselves not just with your brand but with the community
that you helped to build around your brand.




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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Ready to take social media to the next level? Looking for a way to jumpstart your social CRM program? Consider integrating support and knowledge communities into your social technology effort. Read the free white paper to find out how.