The ubiquity of social media has changed the relationship between brands and consumers, government and citizens, and businesses and their suppliers at an unprecedented pace. Tech savvy, time poor consumers have now taken charge of how they get in touch with their favourite brands. This power shift means that organisations must embrace social media as a primary communication tool to ensure that they meet consumers’ needs and provide the best customer experience possible.
The rise of social media reflects consumer comfort in a digital environment. Customers are used to finding solutions and information independently online, regardless of their location, or the time of day. While this represents a challenge for brands, it also presents an opportunity. For example if social media queries are handled quickly and effectively, this can greatly enhance a company’s relationship with its customers.
To ensure this, forward-thinking organisations are deploying a more proactive approach to social media to speak to their customers on a more personal level and add value through advice or assistance, without the need for users to make contact first.
A tailored social media solution
This style of proactive social media was trialled in Arvato’s seven-year partnership with the Dutch Central Government. The driving force behind the move onto social media was to become more open and transparent in communications to citizens.
Arvato conducted extensive research into the Dutch public’s use of social media, including the types of questions being asked online. It was decided that Twitter was the most suitable channel to interact with citizens in an open, simple and, eventually, proactive way.
A pilot programme, built on a model of proactive two-way dialogue, was initiated and delivered by a team of multi-skilled agents in partnership with Arvato who continually identify relevant, key topics being discussed by the public.
After some initial success, an even more proactive approach was implemented, which involves sharing key information and monitoring conversations in detail to engage with citizens on relevant topics and current events.
The trial’s success included:
- The number of followers increased by 26 per cent over the first 12-month period, without any paid-for promotion.
- More than a million Dutch citizens were served via Twitter, by the team responding to almost 6,000 queries over a 12-month period.
- All enquiries are responded to within two hours, and although agents do not engage on policy discussion, complaints and enquiries are always acknowledged with relevant information and guidance provided.
Executing proactive social media
The first stage of establishing a proactive social strategy is to assess which business services it will suit best. Trialling the approach in one key area will provide learnings to inform the expansion of social engagement across the service lines and channels that will benefit most.
Once this has been decided, encouraging customer service representatives to deliver a more personal service using their own intuition and experience is the best way to exceed consumers’ expectations on social media.
This can be achieved through training that helps advisors respond instinctively in real-time situations by letting them naturally expand on the initial, preferred responses to common queries and complaints. Building staff confidence in their own opinion and expertise helps to create advisors that genuinely engage with customers.
Employees must also be trained on the unpredictability of social media and the necessity of responding to reactive enquiries as quickly as possible. The right processes must be in place for escalating queries and complaints efficiently.
While carefully mapping out procedures for common enquiries and eventualities is integral to the success of any social media engagement strategy, flexibility is also an extremely important factor to consider. Consumers tend to frequent social media at different, often antisocial times, so organising a staffing model to meet these fluctuations in demand is key.
You can view the Dutch Central Government’s Twitter feed here.
Debbie joined Arvato in 2013 to boost growth in the public sector and contact centre markets. With over 25 years of sales and business development experience, Debbie specialises in generating and maintaining customer relationships. Her career includes roles at Wescot Credit Services, Dixon Stores Group and Transcom Worldwide.