Customers have made it abundantly clear over the years that they want to – and are – taking control. While this may seem like an overwhelming thought for organizations, this distinct shift in customer preference has actually presented a unique opportunity for customer service leaders to step up their game and give their customers a voice, or at least according to Citibank senior vice president of social media, Frank Eliason, it is.
Cynthia Clark detailed in a blog today exactly why Eliason believes this, and how the importance of keeping customers at the core of an organization and being prepared to serve their needs is how a company truly excels, in addition to what may seem like a silly but fundamental aspect of a running a successful call center – treating your customers as humans. “They’re not a number, but a person, and I will be their advocate,” he states.
So what does it mean for organizations to hand over control to their customers? Eliason explains, “We live in interesting times. Social media is prevalent in everything we do. Consumer reviews are everywhere on the Internet. Companies are asking customers to "like" their brand, or share the experience. But are most companies share-worthy? Do you want to share information in that manner? Do you want to tie your reputation with your friends to some of these companies? Why would I share good things about a brand, when I just called for help and they were so stuck on selling me that they never fixed my [problem]?”
It may come to a surprise to find that some organizations are still cautious when it comes to integrating social media into their practices and strategies, especially with the mindset that negative reviews will become an ultimate detriment in impacting their business.
Eliason explains how to utilize social media for ultimate optimization, saying, “If companies want to win in social media, they should focus on their product and on customer experiences. Listen to your customers through every touchpoint and deliver for them. Create share-worthy moments. I also think that it's imperative for companies to provide their customer a means to share feedback in a way that isn't a black hole, but fully reviewed in a timely manner and responded to. One of the best ways to stop negative online conversations is providing customers a means to share feedback with you.”
When it comes to common mistakes made by companies in connecting to customers, Eliason stresses how imperative it is to treat customers like the intelligent human beings they are, which will in turn build trust between you and your customers. He furthermore attributes all of the social media rebellion to this lack of customer perception.
Another problem he sees in today’s system is that too many simplistic items are handled through either the Web or hosted IVR systems, when the calls that are really coming through are much more complex and don’t always fit the standard process flow established so many years ago. This has led customers to become increasingly frustrated. Eliason warns, “It's time to change that. If we as service leaders don't guide the shift, our customers will, and they [already] are.”
Additionally, Eliason explains that too many companies are misusing social media for the wrong purposes; for example, too many are “spending millions of dollars in advertising on Facebook (News - Alert)” to try and force their message, when a small percentage of people realistically click on them. He poses the question, “When was the last time you clicked an ad on Facebook? I know I never have.” In other words, strive to hold an actual conversation with customers on what matter most to them – get to know them, and you’ll be surprised at the results you’ll see.
In conclusion, listen to the customer and the unique stories they have to tell, and you’ll see an unprecedented impact on business.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey