Three Signs Your Social Media Strategy Is Harming Your Customer Experience

Social media's popularity has increased customer touchpoints on a scale that many organizations can't meet, leading to social media strategies that aren't customer-centric

At every customer touchpoint, organizations have the opportunity to maintain or improve upon their customers’ experiences. From marketing emails and customer support calls to in-person sales meetings and in-store interactions, organizations have historically struggled to provide a unified customer experience, and the hype of social media and social networking hasn’t made it any easier.

Jenny Sussin, research director at Gartner, identified three of the most common signs that your social media strategy could be harming the customer experience.

Your Social Media Strategy Doesn’t Account for Responding to Posts
Almost one in four consumers say they have used social media to get an organization’s response, but is responding to every social media post the best route to go for companies?

First, an organization must decide what it is trying to achieve with its social strategy. In most cases, organizations will opt to respond to posts that require customer support, present themselves as easy marketing opportunities, or indicate propensity to buy. However, there are organizations in industries such as energy and utilities, pharmaceuticals, or public transportation that deliberately choose not to respond based on their business objectives.

“Deciding to, or not to, respond, regardless of your business objectives will impact the customer experience,” said Ms. Sussin. “It is critical that IT leaders supporting customer experience initiatives work with the business to support the operational feasibility of responding to social media posts and address customer experience repercussions with business leaders.”

Your Knowledge of Your Social Media Strategy Is That It’s Something Marketing Handles
A key challenge for many companies is that employees are not sure what social media-based activities are already occurring within their organizations. “In truth, most marketing, customer service, sales and digital commerce leaders don’t know this either,” said Ms. Sussin. “Most organizations have in excess of three social applications, often with parallel functionality. Not only is this a waste of money, but if multiple marketing teams are using multiple social customer tools, then market data and insight get lost and social customer histories are lost.”

Regardless of technology overlap, if both customer service teams and marketing teams are responding to social media posts that mention the organization without knowing of the other’s approach, customers may get conflicting messages. Not only will reconciling unique and repetitive business objectives help optimize organizational resources, but it will also help deliver a consistent customer experience.

It’s Unclear If the People Your Organization Is Engaging With on Social Media Are Customers
Many organizations struggle to leverage social as part of a unified customer experience, often because interactions and customer profiles are not captured or linked up to existing customer records.

The ability to tie social interactions back to customer records allows for an enhanced customer experience, minimizes disconnected communications and ultimately increases customer retention. This capability is becoming an increasing point of differentiation for organizations in their multichannel communications strategies, and multichannel loyalty is part of a holistic approach to CRM.

Regardless of the channel today’s customers expect businesses to sustain interactions with them that are connected, convenient, consistent and personalized.

As more organizations try alternative engagement methods as part of a loyalty strategy, consumer expectations for interaction will continue to evolve. These expectations will create a push from consumers for enhanced communication and personalized interactions. Only organizations that meet and exceed customer expectations, and create engaging and consistent interactions, will foster more sustainable and loyal relationships over time and improve customer experience and retention.

More detailed analysis is available in the report “Three Signs Your Social Media Strategy is Harming Your Customer Experience and What to Do About It”. This report is part of the Gartner Special Report “Customer Experience Emerges as the News Competitive Battlefield.”

Analysts will explore the latest customer trends at the Gartner Customer 360 Summit in San Diego, September 9-11.

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