This morning, we gave a social media workshop as part of the Yorkshire Mafia’s inaugural Leeds Business Week on ‘recreating the customer experience online’. Our presentation looked at social media in the wider context of digital communications and the wider still context of overall business development strategies.

How has digital/social media changed customer service?

There is no doubt that social media has changed the face of customer service, posing both major threats and major opportunities for brands. However, the impact goes way beyond straightforward customer service in terms of complaints and enquiries. It has heightened the importance of enhancing the whole customer experience and it has made communications in business more important than ever.

Customers expect things in ‘real time’ and they want to know that you genuinely care. There’s no such thing as ‘no comment’ and there’s nowhere to hide – everybody’s listening and you have to be too. Staying front of mind and offering better service is easier but also more competitive than ever!

How do you secure and retain loyal customers in the digital age?

Remember direct mail? Well, forget it! The digital age is all about high quality long term relationships, not ‘quick win’s from high volume. Referrals are the key to business growth so getting your customers talking and acting as your marketeers is key. To do that you have to be a ‘giver’ not a ‘taker’ and offer them an EXTRAordinary experience – for the right reasons!

You also have to use the power of social media to LISTEN and respond to what your customers want and keep finding new and interesting ways of maintaining their interest.

How do you get noticed online in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with content?

Firstly, don’t try to be ‘all things to all men’. The more niche, local and specific you are about what you have to do, the more likely you are to be able to engage with the people you want to talk to and their influencers. Ultimately, it’s about finding a purpose and being useful. You may see what you do as mundane but there will be ‘gems’ within your business that you’re not communicating effectively to the outside world. Share your expertise and brand personality through blogs and multimedia content without just trying to overtly ‘sell’.

Here are our 5 Cs of good digital communications when it comes to recreating the customer experience online:

1. Create a ‘communications culture’ (both listening and talking) amongst your staff, customers and with the outside world
2. Carve your niche
3. Remember consumer is king –  not just customer/client
4. Capture the moment with creative ‘real time’ content
5. Care (and genuinely mean it!)

There is of course  no ‘one size fits all’ approach to online customer service – it will depend on the nature of your business/marketplace and, in some sectors such as financial services, it may not be possible for you to engage directly with consumers online. However, you can use social media as an insight tool to understand how to speak their language and what it is that influences them.

You can view our presentation slides in full here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us: