Last week our CEO, Leon Chaddock, took part in a webinar on Social Media Monitoring and Engagement for Utilities alongside Charles Stanton (British Gas), Bernard Mooney (Bord Gais Networks) and Luke Brynley-Jones (Our Social Times). For those of you that couldn’t make it, we’ve written up some of the key highlights.
Utilities offer some particular challenges where social media is concerned. Customers tend to be far more vocal about utilities than other brands and are far more willing to be critical. This isn’t helped by the fact that they are regularly forced to put their prices up. However, from adversity comes innovation and although it’s a challenge, it’s also a great opportunity.
Social Customer Service
Many utilities have really focused their efforts on using social media to provide quality customer service and mitigate negative news.
As Charles Stanton explained in relation to British Gas:
“Our customers will naturally have questions when they read stories in the press that convey a negative impression of our company, and our key strategy is to engage with each customer individually on their level.”
To enable this, British Gas now has a standalone social customer service team that monitors for and engages with customer queries 7 days a week. This does not mean copy and pasting a corporate response – it involves creating clear, tailored responses that actually help to resolve their problems. The team is able to utilise a large catalogue of engaging content including videos, blogs and statistics to help with this.
Businesses are always striving to find new ways to generate new business and sales leads. One of the most talked about methods at the moment is via social media. However, this must be done with careful planning in order to achieve your desired business objectives.
Bringing traffic to their website
Increasing brand awareness
Building stronger customer relationships
Decreased Marketing Expense
With hundreds of differing opinions regarding the effectiveness of using social media for lead generation circulating the web, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with some top tips on how to succeed at it:
Be active on social media: You’ll be surprised at how many companies set up social media accounts but rarely use them. However, it is important to select your social media accounts carefully. Don’t try and jump on every single social platform – be there for the right reasons. For example, Rachel Fershleiser from Tumblr believes that Twitter should be used for conversation rather than as a megaphone. We very much agree, the social web is littered with examples of brands trying to broadcast messages rather than participate.
Always listen to what is being said about your brand on social media and respond accordingly: Knowing that someone is available at the click of a button will, no doubt, give consumers more faith in your company and be a perfect opportunity to build rapport.
Remember that social plays a key role throughout your entire sales pipeline beginning before prospects are even identified, to after they become customers.
Identify strategies that work: There’s nothing wrong with seeing what other people have done right and learn from it.
Use social media as a way of increasing Google rankings: By becoming more well-known through social media, your authority score will increase, therefore boosting your brand’s SEO.
Don’t forget about blogging: Blogs are sometimes forgotten about when discussing social media strategies, but they can be very useful in driving traffic. Blogs can be as broad or as specific as you like, as long as you can relate it back in one way or other to your brand… go for it!
As well as taking up some of these, using a social customer engagement tool such as Sentiment Metrics will allow you to gauge how successful you have been in increasing traffic and potentially sales. You will also be able to easily identify key influencers and customers and have the opportunity to engage with them, thus potentially increasing future sales opportunities.
Directly engaging with an organisation’s customers has been proven to increase customer satisfaction, improve customer retention and generate greatly increased sales leads. Social needs to be integrated across your entire marketing strategy in order to be effective.
On June 11th Sentiment Metrics is taking part in a webinar on Social Media Monitoring and Engagement for Utilities.
Utilities face a specific challenge when it comes to social media. The product is a necessity rather than a luxury and unlike buying a new pair of shoes, a TV or a holiday, no one is going to be overly excited by paying their electricity, gas, water or phone bill. The problem is made worse by the fact that they are regularly forced to put their prices up.
Does that mean they are better staying clear of social? Absolutely not.
There are many examples of utilities making great use of social media for marketing, customer services, social CRM, gaining customer insights and crisis prevention and management. To highlight some of these examples Charles Stanton (Social Media Manager for British Gas) will be sharing some of his experiences during the webinar and our own CEO, Leon Chaddock, will discuss how Sentiment Metrics has set up listening and engagement processes for some of the UK’s leading utilities.
Topics will include:
Providing scalable social customer service
Tracking results and ensuring a high quality service
Identifying potential crises using social media
Juggling differing social media priorities – e.g. marketing vs service
Creating an effective social media listening programme
Building customer relationships through social CRM
I hope you’ll be able to join us. You can register for the webinar here.
Are there any questions you’d like to put to the panel?
Social customer service would appear to be the fastest growing area of social media. It has huge potential to help brands reduce costs, increase customer retention, avert crises, create brand awareness and improve customer satisfaction.
Research in this area is rife, so we’ve collected 15 of the finest, most mind-blowing social customer service statistics around. Enjoy!
1. 70% of Marketing departments are actively involved in social media, compared to 19% of Customer Service departments – Ragan
2. Customers will spend 21% more if they receive good customer service via social media
3. 1 in 3 users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone – Nielson
4. 92% of consumers in the UK have switched business at least once in the last year because of poor customer service – NewVoiceMedia
5. Only 36% of consumers that make customer service enquiries via social media report having their issue solved quickly and effectively – NM Incite
6. 21% of businesses offering a service do not use any tool to monitor social conversations and only 15.7% used paid tools
7. 40% of unresolved complaints through social media resulted in phone calls – Click Fox
8. 42% of users on Twitter expect a response to their customer service issue in under an hour – The Social Habit
9. 71% of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that don’t get a response – NM Incite
10. 73% of top performing companies identified Customer Service as a top reason to invest in social media monitoring – Gleanster
11. Businesses in the UK lose £12b a year as a result of poor customer service – NewVoiceMedia
12. 59% of 18-24 year olds use social customer service – NM Incite
13. 71% of 16 to 64 year-olds turn to the internet when they have a problem with a product – Sitel
14. 51% of social care users actively engage with brands several times per month, with 9% engaging on a daily basis – NM Incite
15. 70% of social care users are likely to use social care again if served satisfactorily – NM Incite
Here at Sentiment Metrics, we help leading brands including banks, utilities, retail, transport and B2B organisations to identify and engage with customer service enquiries. Contact us to see how we can help you provide quality social customer care.
Social media and the financial industry… you may think they are like chalk and cheese. However as more and more companies start to bring this new digital technology into their marketing strategies, people are beginning to realise that if social media can be correctly integrated into the financial industry, it can provide significant value into a business’ objectives by contributing to the revenue stream.
Social media offers those in the finance industry new ways to increase their strategies’ effectiveness and market penetration. James Saulez, head of online trading at Global Trader, believes that if companies want to see real return from social media, it needs to form part of their high-level business objectives.
It doesn’t take much nowadays for one comment on social media to impact a brand’s reputation so it’s vital that those in the financial sector know exactly how to get it right on social and deal with them from a business perspective. Back in 2012 research discovered that 71% of brands ignored comments on Twitter. Why invest time in implementing a social media strategy if you are going to ignore what your customers are saying?!
To lend a helping hand, we’ve provided you with a few tips on how to get started:
Acknowledge all comments if possible. Social media is becoming the voice of the people therefore it’s wise to acknowledge your customers when they are talking. This will prove to your customers that they are at the forefront of your customer service strategy. It shows you are listening. It will also show followers of the person who posted the negative comment that it is being dealt with and should hopefully reduce the number of retweets which could potentially start spreading a bad name for your brand.
Don’t retaliate – This won’t help anything! Keep up a level of professionalism at all times and remember this is feedback.
Regardless of whether you personally feel that your business has done anything wrong, always apologise and offer a solution where appropriate.
One brand, in particular, which could learn from these tips is LloydsTSB after it recently received various tweets suggesting the brand’s social media engagement wasn’t quite up to scratch. Early engagement could have stopped the problem escalating on Twitter.
When a representative from LloydsTSB first replied to a tweet a day later than the customer’s first comment they were very apologetic however customer, Mark Shaw, still wasn’t having it, responding with a sarcastic tone:
Mark isn’t the only one unimpressed at the retail bank’s efforts on social media. Joining in Mark’s conversation aimed at the LloydsTSB, Graham Jones even went as far to say that banks are behind on the social front:
It appeared Mark agreed as he compared the bank’s social customer service to that of British Gas:
Mark then decided to go down the more traditional customer service route to see if he could get some type of response:
After much to-ing and fro-ing Mark tweeted another update explaining it was ‘case closed’:
But it didn’t end there… Mark went on to write a blog post about his experiences with LloydsTSB and British Gas, comparing the two further.
If you are looking for further insight on how to improve your social CRM strategy by using a social media monitoring tool, our CEO, Leon Chaddock, recently took part in a webinar on social media monitoring for the financial industry. To listen to the recording, click here.
In the past few weeks, football management in Manchester has shifted dramatically. Firstly the big man in football, Sir Alex Ferguson, announced his retirement after 26 years at Manchester United and on Tuesday it was publicly announced that Roberto Mancini had been sacked from Manchester City. The reason for his dismissal? Reports suggest it was down to his failure “to achieve any of his stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s Uefa Champions League”.
The Telegraph reported that Mancini found out the news from chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, on Sunday night, that his tenure would be terminated but the public has only just found out.
This makes for a good time to look at the social buzz surrounding the news. We ran a social media analysis of the past seven days to see how the level of social conversation varied in the run-up to the announcement and in the immediate aftermath.
Rumours started circulating the social world on Friday when the number of mentions started steadily increasing, creating the first peak on Sunday at 4,211 mentions. Many of these were from those caught up in the speculation. The second peak came on Tuesday, the day the news was announced, with the mentions peaking at 5,349.
So how did those on social take the news?
Many were shocked at the news, regardless of the some claims being made by the mainstream media. Messages of support and thanks flooded in:
There were also several people who felt Mancini had been unfairly treated. One social media user took sympathy on him:
Whilst former Manchester City defender Andy Hinchcliffe was amongst those who suggested Mancini should have been given more time, a common thread:
This appears to be a very different reaction from the current team players, who were reported to be ‘delighted’ and ‘relieved’ at the news:
So it seems there has been a fairly negative reaction to Roberto Mancini’s dismissal from Manchester City, with a few exceptions (see above tweet). By engaging with a social media monitoring tool, high profile people and organisations can find out the ‘real’ reactions from the public as social media is often deemed the most honest media platform. On Wednesday it was revealed that Malaga’s coach, Manuel Pellegrini, would be allowed to leave the club after this season, so it’s possible that he may be Mancini’s replacement. Only time will tell.
Businesses put so much effort into attracting new customers that they often neglect their existing ones. The impact of this is highlighted in new research which estimates that UK businesses lose £12 billion every year as a result of poor customer service.
Traditionally, poor customer service is something we associate with call centres that are more interested in keeping costs down than providing a valuable service. We’ve all experienced the tedious process of waiting on hold to speak to someone, before being transferred to-and-fro between agents reading from scripts. Perhaps this is why so many of us now turn to social channels when we have a problem.
This is particularly true of Generation Y. The research, conducted by NewVoiceMedia, shows that roughly a third of 16-24 year-olds will post online if they are unhappy with the service they are receiving. However, if they receive good service, 71% would recommend the company to others and 44% would use the company more frequently.
This shows the impact that offering quality customer service can have. More emphasis needs to be placed on improving the customer experience across all channels; whether in-person, on the phone, online, or using social media.
Customers need to be treated as individuals, but for this to work we need to see a joined up approach across multiple-channels. For instance, when a customer complains about a brand via Twitter, the person responsible for dealing with that complaint needs to be able to see the full picture – the conversation history, who has previously dealt with them, any other conversations that have taken place, and so on.
Research from last year showed that budgets for Marketing and Advertising totalled $500 billion, whilst Social CRM budgets were $50 billion and Customer Service was a lowly $9 billion. I hope this is something we will see changing in the coming months and years, otherwise many brands will sink into irrelevance as the voice of the customer grows ever stronger.
Sentiment Metrics recently took part in a webinar on Social Media Monitoring for the Finance Industry. There were some fascinating debates and lots of practical examples of how banks, credit unions and insurance companies have made best use of social media monitoring. For those that weren’t able to attend, you can listen to the recording here or read on for the highlights.
Joining our CEO, Leon Chaddock, on the panel were Frank Eliason (Citibank) and Christophe Langlois (Visible Banking), with Our Social Times’ Luke Brynley-Jones chairing the discussion.
Why are so many companies failing to monitor social media?
Companies either don’t understand social media monitoring or are scared by the quantity of the data. Monitoring should be the first thing we do in social media – it’s risk free and helps you understand what is going on. There’s no excuse not to be doing it. Even if you don’t engage on social media you need to know what’s going on and what people are saying about your company and the industry.
What are the challenges of social media monitoring?
One challenge of social media monitoring is that it needs to be connected with traditional channels. Why do we place so much emphasis on listening on social media, but we don’t listen when people call us? Social is not a silo and needs to be seen as part of a bigger picture.
Are there different opportunities and challenges for different departments?
Almost every part of the business has a vested interest in social media monitoring. Social Media is not about PR, Marketing, or Customer Service, it’s about the entire organisation.
Leon noted that Sentiment Metrics used to work with a lot of individual departments focused on their own particular needs, but with each department running off and doing their own thing there were huge inconsistencies within the company. Today Enterprises are looking to implement consistent strategies across the organisation, set within a holistic framework. Within that, each team can create their own customised dashboards to make sure they are collecting the data relevant to them.
Are there specific challenges and opportunities for the finance industry?
One problem any organisation faces on social media is that they have to be believable. Given the recent financial crisis, credibility is a real issue for banks. They have to earn the trust of their customers by putting the customers first. Companies need to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about their communities.
Another challenge is that the finance industry is governed by strict regulations and many banks are reluctant to get involved in social as a result. However, Frank argued that rather than fearing the regulators, financial institutions need to work with them. This will help all parties better understand the landscape and how regulations are applied to social media.
How to produce great content
The companies that are really good at social actually do very little. Instead they let their communities do it for them. User generated content gives your customers a voice and makes them feel included. It really helps to connect the business with the customers. CIMB Malaysia is a great example of this in action – amongst other things they asked their Facebook fans to design and vote for their latest credit card design.
Where companies are failing
One of the problems with social media monitoring is that so many companies that collect data never actually do anything with it. They fail to tag it or pass it on to the right people and it is lost. This data could be used to learn and transform the organisation or product – a recent case study shows how Barclays did this to great effect following the release of their PingIt app.
Frank highlighted a recent example where a cancer patient tweeted his insurance company after he reached the cap on his policy. After a couple of days of engaging with the CEO on Twitter, his insurance company lifted the cap. This may have been a compassionate gesture, but it sets a dangerous precedent. It sends out the message that if you don’t like something, contact us via social media and we will give you special treatment.
The future of social media monitoring in the finance industry
One area that will continue to grow at a rapid pace is social customer service. It presents a fantastic opportunity for banks and insurance companies to show the human side of their company and encourages customer advocacy.
At Tuesday lunchtime, many rugby supporters were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the squad for the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, which gets underway next month.
(Image from: www.telegraph.co.uk )
So for those of you who may not follow rugby as closely, who made the cut? You can find out here.
After the names of the squad were released, Lions coach, Warren Gatland, said “I don’t think there was too many surprises,” however it seems some of those on social may think otherwise… Just after the line-up was revealed, social went into overdrive. We took a look at the social discussion over the past seven days to see what was creating the social hype.
As you can see, the level of comments surrounding the Lions steadily increased over the course of the week in the run up to the announcement with the number reaching a peak of 1167 mentions on Tuesday. Some of these mentions were from news sites spreading the word, while the majority were people’s reactions to the chosen team.
So what was the social reaction?
Various rugby fans showed their excitement because it was that time again:
While other social media users posted comments about particular members of the squad. One Facebook user thought Sam Warburton being made captain of the team was a great opportunity for the player’s sporting future:
As well as another congratulating two specific team members:
Others weren’t so pleased about the squad and were quick to criticise the choice made by Warren Gatland. The line-up caused some confusion and shock amongst social media users:
Along with Johnny Wilkinson, Chris Robshaw and Rory Best’s absences from the team:
One tweeter even referred to the chosen line up as a ‘boring’ squad!
So, it seems there was a mixed response from fans. This is just one example of how monitoring social media allows you to see immediate reactions to announcements. If your brand has a big announcement coming up, have you got everything prepared in order for you to monitor the reaction effectively?
Picture this… you’ve just lost a member of your family and you’re grieving. The last thing you need is insensitivity from one of your service providers. This is exactly what happened recently to one family. Broadband provider, Virgin Media, sent a bill of £63.89 to a deceased man as well as adding fines for late payment, not aware that he had passed away.
The man’s son-in-law decided to post a photo of the bill on Facebook with the aim of getting Virgin Media’s attention. And boy did it do just that! Since then it has gone viral, not only on Facebook but also across other social media channels. On Facebook alone it has been shared more than 53,000 times! Virgin Media made a public apology for the mistake and then took to resolving the sensitive issue offline.
So what can brands learn from this?
Regardless of whether you personally feel that your business has done anything wrong, always apologise and offer a solution where appropriate. This is backed by an article from the BBC which reported that, according to social media experts, it is a reminder of the importance of responding quickly and publicly to complaints made on social networks. It doesn’t take much nowadays for one post on social media to potentially impact a brand’s reputation thanks to the power of sharing or retweeting content. In order to keep on top of this, you need to know what social channels to be present on. A lot of brands prioritise Twitter, but this is a prime example of when that may not always be the best idea.
For more top tips on how to deal with negative comments about your brand, take a look at one of our previous blogs on crisis management.