Meeting the Needs of the Social Customer
Cast your mind back 10 years: MySpace was in its pomp, delivering music and poorly designed profile pages to the masses. Now, think five years ago: Facebook was beginning to peak and scrawling on walls had become less about graffiti and more about making plans and sharing interests. In the past two years Twitter has offered the world a stream-of-consciousness tool, enabling everyone to exhibit their opinions/ideas/neuroses to willing followers.
Social media has given us a vast array of ways to express ourselves, and people have acclimatised to these evolving technologies with alarming efficiency, writes Gareth Pitts, global head of cloud services at Moxie Software (right).
But while a child as young as nine years old can use Facebook and Twitter (despite rules saying users should be over 13), multi-million dollar financial service companies often fall behind in their adoption of social media. Anyone can make the argument that financial institutions prioritise data security and privacy, which are certainly the most important assets for these organisations and their customers. However, it is undeniable that financial institutions are not taking full advantage of social technologies.
Social media should not just be enriching people’s personal lives; it should be aiming to enrich customer relationships. For banks and other financial organisations, it presents an important opportunity to break free from the traditional perception people have of institutions that are rigid and inflexible and build a reputation for providing a progressive, bespoke customer experience.
By recognising the importance of social technologies, some financial companies have indeed been aggressively moving to deploy social customer relationship management (CRM) technology – that is, managing customer relationships through social as well as traditional channels. The principle is fairly simple – it lets you offer the customer an opportunity to engage with your organisation through the channel of their choice – the one that is most convenient option for them at any given time.
Different demographics have vastly different habits and needs, so software that enables multi-channel customer engagement gives a business the flexibility to cater to these groups to satisfy their unique requirements. Some people prefer to speak via e-mail, while others may find the convenience and speed of live chat ideal. By offering a range of channels, you are able to keep all types of customers happy – not just those willing to walk to a branch or pick-up a phone.
Gaining Social Knowledge
However, many of these companies make the mistake of assuming that by simply installing this software, they are improving their service. It is too easy to answer customer queries with vague, even inaccurate responses. Speed of response is important, but not at the cost of accuracy and detail – a customer would still be unsatisfied if you answered their question within five minutes, but to an insufficient extent. The key to providing the accuracy and detail needed is using customer communications channels in conjunction with using social knowledge.
Social knowledge is the ability to gather crowd-sourced answers by tapping into the collective knowledge of employees to capture the right information and deliver it to customers in response to their questions, faster and more efficiently. In other words, harnessing socially-collected knowledge of employees and driving it through workflows, authorisation and approvals to become endorsed answers that can be distributed to customers. For the highly regulated industries, meeting compliance, security, policy and regulatory requirements is an additional dimension that social tools need to meet. For example, the capability to route email responses for approval based upon defined business requirements, or bringing policy subject matter experts directly into live chat sessions.
While the shift towards social engagement had been mooted in previous years, 2012 saw companies truly begin to embrace it, with 2013/14 primed for commonplace adoption. Now that social tools are such a huge part of our everyday lives – changing how we consume news, interact with friends and carry out a variety of other daily tasks – companies simply cannot afford to ignore them. It’s no longer about being cool – it’s about not being left behind, and what was once the zeitgeist is now a necessity.
That said, it’s hard to blame large companies for sometimes being slower to react than their customers to new technologies, particularly among the highly regulated industries. Seeing a trend is far easier than implementing something appropriately to capitalise upon it. However, banking institutions are often perceived as being anachronistic – slow-moving titans, lumbering through progression and struggling against the shifting sands of change. By adopting enterprise social software and ensuring that they too move with the times, financial services companies can avoid this perception entirely and carve a new path of customer experience success.