As the first touchpoint for customers, call centres may be the best method of dealing with queries and complaints – which is why they should stay on top of their social media activity.
Discussing the need for social media has virtually been done to death. Most companies have recognised the need to add social media to their extensive multichannel call centre mix of phone, IVR, email and chat – but few have actually asked how or investigated why (beyond the arbitrary explanation that it is ‘popular’).
This year, a study led by professor Janna Quitney Anderson coined a new phrase to encapsulate the new generation of consumers: Gen AO, the Always-On Generation. Born in the early 2000s, they have been influenced by connectivity and the easy, instant access to information through the Internet.
They consider e-mails and advertising to be passé – in fact, many universities have stopped issuing students with email addresses because they weren’t being used. In other words, social media is not just a popular timewaster or a networking opportunity – it has actually changed user patterns to the extent that channels such as voice and e-mail may become obsolete.
Focus on your staff
Whereas directors and executives define the new objectives and strategies behind social media with enthusiasm, they often forget how crucial the people element is when introducing the challenge to staff. Supervisors have to prepare agents for the new role, coach them, and keep them motivated.
Even the most prolific Facebook users will need to be trained and managed intensively during the process. To truly turn social media a successful customer communication channel, operators need to focus on people and not on technology.
The simplest way to do this is by making use of a hosted service provider who can manage issues like integration, maintenance, backups and licensing. Once operators shift their focus to training and not technology, the headaches experienced during the transitional period is lessened.
Seamless integration is key
It’s not to say that technology is not important – it’s crucial. But it needs to be handled by companies for whom call centre technology is their core business. One of the biggest mistakes contact centres make is to silo their centre by media: having one function dealing with email, another deals with web chat, another deals with enquiries, and so forth. It’s the equivalent of tacking mismatched rooms onto an existing house: there is an extent of functionality, but ultimately a customer is faced with a disjointed and inefficient experience. Single vendor solutions created through acquisition often have the same operational integration issues – seeming attractive on paper but failing to perform.
If social media (or any multichannel offering) is to work, it has be seamless – a single contact centre platform that supports holistic multi-media interaction. Calls that are followed up with an email with a click, emails that link to chat…and consistent quality across each channel.
Another false assumption that companies make is that social media is just another way of speaking to their customers, when it is actually a new way of listening to them. When we started offering integration with Salesforce.com last year, there was some scepticism about the decision.
However, the ability that the product gives call centres to monitor customer conversations in the realm of social media and respond to them is incredibly effective. An agent can literally view data in a sales app, answer queries made via social media, and post the answers instantly in Twitter or Facebook. This can also be fed into NetPromoter Scores. Not only is the issue resolved, it’s resolved publicly – becoming, as it were, an instant, credible testimonial.
Make it personable
We’ve all heard someone complaining they “want to speak to a human being” when making an enquiry or a complaint. The ability to not only put a name, but a face, to a call centre agent handling a query is extremely powerful and goes a long way to make a customer feel both heard and valued.
Centres are now able to create personalised profiles with bios and photos of their social media agents and create platforms where customers can interact, share information and demonstrate solutions. It has also proven to be a useful research tool: companies can test how customers feel about new services, products and changes within the contact centre before launching them.
The rule of thumb for customer service is ultimately to speak to your customers where they are: if they are making queries on Facebook or Twitter, that is where they should be met and addressed.
Do not neglect the other channels
Social media is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Venting customers or those with complex complaints and technical issues cannot be handled effectively via the platform. Agents need to know the difference between a situation that can resolved with social media, and those that can’t. They should also be able to move effortlessly from social media onto a different platform, such as chat or voice. Providing proper guidelines and training is crucial in this regard.
More importantly, monitoring tools need to be in place so that customer interactions can still be captured and played back. A social media connector for your contact centre management software should give you the ability to monitor conversations across a variety of platforms, alert the appropriate people and enable them to respond quickly and easily from within their main application.
Supervisors still need to be able to intrude on interactions and monitor them in real-time so that agents can be coached and quality maintained. Managers still need the ability to mine and capture data for reporting purposes. Social media, in other words, has to be treated exactly the same as voice and other traditional channels.
Social media is no longer a fringe issue. It needs to be integrated into the daily workflow of contact centres and it needs to be done well. Unfortunately, it is a complex and unpredictable platform to use that should not be navigated without expertise. Companies should be sure to engage with experienced technology partners to realise their social media goals and give them the capacity to deal with their most valuable asset: the staff driving the strategy.
Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget
Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.
As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.
First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.
For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.
3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter
Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)
1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns
It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.
2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly
(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.
3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe
Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.
Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.
Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?
How do you market your company to this generation?
According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.
They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.
So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?
1. By being transparent
Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.
Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs
Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.
Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.
2. By offering options
A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.
That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.
3. By being forward thinking
We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.
On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.
1. By being transparent
As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.
2. By offering options
Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.
Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.
Related: The Z Generation
3. By being forward thinking
They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.
The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.
Free Sample Marketing Plan Template
You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.
Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.
Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.
Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template
Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:
Recommended Marketing Reads:
- Smart Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Mega Guide to Online Marketing
- Marketing Toolbox for the Entrepreneur
- The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs
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