When it comes to the digital retail age, meeting the demands of modern online shoppers not only urges the multi-channel marketing development, but stimulates retailers to squarely face the considerable needs of resolving customer’s questions in real-time, which is why there is a great advantage in establishing sound customer service— especially on social media.
Instead of regarding customer value as limited to making decisions of consumption and purchase behaviour, the presence of social media lets consumers dedicate themselves to company growth in multiple ways and provides firms the opportunity to engage with customers and even turn them into become advocates of the products( C. Malthouse, Haenlein, Skiera, Wege and Zhang, 2013). This shows that the emphasis of social media marketing strategy should be more focus on customer relationships, rather than average advertisements in the long term.
Don’t let Ad figures conceal the real people behind it
Social media is the main character in the digital retail age, many companies concentrate on the advantages of advertising and are eager to boost post reaches, shares and likes, in order to attract people to their web and ‘more likely’ to make purchases. Powerful content is certainly essential to social media, but must advertising be the smartest and most efficient way to engage with audiences?
Let us look at one of the trendiest social media platforms for business—Facebook. Putting aside the truth that Facebook’s total reach has decreased consistently to an average 10.71% by 06/2016 (Last data from DMR, 2016), the continuous advertising can lead to ‘hide post’ actions from customers, and ‘Likes’ on posts may not contribute to transactions with wrongly targeted audiences, either.
Compared to advertising, customer service on social media platforms is a guaranty to make consumers pay the visits actively with their questions about products, campaigns, etc. Customer consulting is vital for integrated shopping experiences that makes customers feel reliable and even relatable with the brand. Therefore, the importance of customer service should not be underestimated when compared to external advertising on social media. Social media is exactly the ideal place to present the affinity for a brand with people leaving positive feedbacks.
Reconsider the benefits in invisible customer value
Since customer has become a primary source of value, consumer experiences partly decides whether orders will be completed or not, and will old customers return to conduct the next purchase.
Customer service is where the brands can grab the opportunity to reach their potential clients directly and impress them with amiable and professional, efficient attitude. The more customers trust and like a brand, the more likely it is deals will be achieved. Although it is an invisible index of customer retention, customer satisfaction and trust could be more practical to be considered as a reference than ‘Likes’ and ‘shares’ on the social media posts.
On the other hand, the fine public praise of customer service may be one of the most powerful marketing strategies and advertising for a brand. Here we can use the UK degitaly-led retailer Argos Ltd as a good example.
How Argos transfers great service to a favorable marketing strategy
The leading digital retail brand Argos was the first multichannel retail in the UK that reached £1bn revenue in a year in 2015. The revenue figure includes mobile transactions, click-and-collect and home delivery (Matthew Chapman,2015), which illustrates its superior integration of online and offline channels.
As a major player in digital retailer, Argos is also fully utilizing its strength in the social medias. On the Facebook fan page, Argos maintains a low posting frequency that generally posts once or twice a day—or even less. Note that despite the low posting rates, the post formats are mainly videos, which is more likely to receive higher exposure in the Facebook news feed (Marcus Krieg, 2016).
In addition to using video posts, the high response rate is obvious on the posts as well, which aims to resolve and answer consumer complaints and questions effectively. Argos has displayed ‘Typically replies instantly in private message’ on its fan page as well.
Argos’s consistent genuine attitude towards customers has also been shown in another vital social media—twitter. Argos set up a dedicated customer service channel called @ArgosHelpers, which specifies in dealing with customer problems with an average 76% response rate and generally replies in 55 minutes (Dean Johnston, 2016).
The positive feedbacks on @ArgosHelpers from customers are non-negligible. These twitter users actively leave comments about how they gained wonderful buying experiences from Argos and tag Argos on their tweets. If people see their friends giving positive feedbacks to Argos, there is a strong possibility they will consider online shopping at Argos next time. To make the most of word-of-mouth marketing, developing good customer service on social media is a necessary move.
Customer service contributes to customer retention, brand image and useful marketing resources
Does customer service count as a marketing strategy? Given that customer experience is crucial in the digital retail age, customer service could be a valuable means of marketing that even more powerful than product advertising. Not only will customer service helps business with retaining consumers, but also delivering positive brand image with trust to their potential clients.
Moreover, companies can implement re-marketing strategy on people who had been consulted about similar merchandises, which could be a more accurate way of finding the right customers than targeting audience on social media advertisements. As a result, how to transfer customer feedback and satisfaction to visible and substantial resources of marketing is an essential focal point for the business today.