You've probably heard the old saying "Seeing is believing." But have you incorporated this concept into your customer engagement strategy?
As cliche as it may sound, this concept has a lot of relevance for businesses' approach to customer support. Making the customer experience visible to other consumers can be a great way for companies to demonstrate both their commitment to engagement and how effectively they deliver on that promise.
The impact of observing
The importance and impact of consumer observation is already somewhat understood in the context of customer buying decisions, yet many business leaders underestimate its significance. For example, a recent report from Harvard Business Review, which analyzed 14,000 brand touch points , found that "observing other customers wasn't only very common, it was also strikingly important in shaping consumers' views of a brand." The study further concluded that peer observation's impact was just as great as traditional brand advertising.
Perhaps even more importantly, the report determined that peer observation had a much greater impact on customer brand perception than word-of-mouth in a variety of sectors, including mobile and electronics. Hearing about a product or service from a friend, family member or coworker can absolutely alter a consumer's recommendations and reviews, but the effect is even more pronounced when the individual simply witnesses others making purchases and choosing products.
Discussing these findings, Customer Think contributor Chris Petersen offered a number of key recommendations regarding how retailers and other firms can better leverage peer observation in their outreach efforts. He emphasized the value of providing rich product content that shows consumers actually using the items in question and encouraging customers to demonstrate for others.
Those are all great recommendations, and business leaders should strongly consider all of those notions. But they should also aim to extend the concept of peer observation further into the realm of customer engagement.
Customer engagement in action
By making their customer service efforts more readily visible, companies don't need to rely on word of mouth and reviews to convince prospects that they will receive a top-quality customer experience - consumers can see the evidence firsthand. That proof is far more convincing than anything else a business has to offer.
Consider the example of T-Mobile as highlighted in a recent post on Engagement Optimization. While the focus of that piece was on gamification success stories, T-Mobile's experience also offers an excellent demonstration of the principle in action. By creating its "T-Community," T-Mobile developed a forum where customers could publicly ask questions and voice concerns. The gamification element came into play as agents received achievement points every time they engaged with their customers. What's critical to note here is that this incentivization combined with the open demonstration of T-Mobile's commitment to customer service led to a major surge in customer engagement.
Naturally, social customer service can and should play a role in any effort to make engagement more visible. Yet it's also imperative that firms approach these channels carefully.
As Business Insider contributor Andrew Meola recently noted, consumers are increasingly coming to expect companies to offer customer services and support via social media. However, a North Ridge Group report found that about one-third of all social media-based customer support requests never receive an answer. That highlights the first and most easily solved challenge here: If a business is going to offer customer engagement through social media, it needs to have the capabilities in place to actually deliver on this promise. It is far better to simply not offer social customer service than to make the channel available when you don't have the necessary resources, as the latter case will demonstrate your company's engagement shortcomings, rather than strengths.
Additionally, firms need to make sure their social customer service is treated just like any other form of support. Too often, businesses assign social customer support responsibilities to the marketing department or some other part of the organization, rather than integrating into the contact center. That runs the risk of diminishing its effectiveness and creates a disconnect between other channels.
When companies can get social customer service right, though, they are able to broadcast loudly and clearly that they not only take customer engagement seriously, but are also capable of delivering on their promises.
How does your company demonstrate its commitment to customer engagement?