Original Source: Using Social Media To Redefine The Customer Experience, Analysis by: Josh Weil, CEO & Co-founder,Youth Trends, Inc.
As social media technologies increasingly become viable marketing solutions, there are significant emerging opportunities for retailers to rethink how they deal with their younger customers. With new tools, resources and learnings released daily, the notion of an improved and technologically enhanced customer experience strategy adds real and tangible value to the factors that influence shopper actions and transactions.
The objective of creating a social-media enhanced customer experience strategy is ultimately one that is unique and differentiated from your competitive set. Moreover, a tech-infused customer experience strategy should be able to deliver positive experiences for teens and college students across all channels, which will drive favorability and loyalty. When all is said and done, perhaps the most powerful characteristic of a sound social media led customer experience strategy is the fact that your brand or service won’t necessarily be competing on price alone. Social media marketing isn’t just about communicating a brand’s value; it’s about constantly confirming its value through relevant communications and interactions. Over the next 12 to 18 months, we strongly feel customer experience strategy will move up the value chain as behaviors and actions teens and college students demonstrate before, during and after the transaction become significantly easier to identify, monitor and analyze. We’ve outlined a series of best practices to consider and highlighted examples of companies and brands with leading customer experience strategies.
- Enhanced Customer Experience Strategy Considerations Intelligence Build – inclusive of all relevant pieces of information regarding your products, services and other related offerings that you want your youth customer to know. Equally just as important is the consideration of the ideal target market segment based on their activities and interactions via branded social media applications and services
- Empower – stimulate ongoing feedback through multiple communications channels including blog posts, email, fan pages and live events
- Review & Share – leverage all of the intelligence gathered and share throughout all applicable groups within the organization including but not necessarily limited to marketing, research, brand management and product development
- Ongoing Engagement – one characteristic the customer experience leaders all share is their willingness and effectiveness in providing an ongoing communications stream with their customers that results in further intelligence and learnings
- Seamless Integration – customer experience should be consistent and retain the brand’s equity regardless of the channel
- Optimization – a continuous evaluation of the intelligence build will enable you to both adapt to current customer needs and interests and potentially identify new target segments
Customer Experience Leaders
Zappos – Although the number two online retailer among teens and college students is probably best known for its success in utilizing social media to build their brand, the true key to their popularity and growth is the shopping experience they offer their customer base. The Zappos customer experience strategy centers on their service approach. In a word, it’s tremendous. Beyond just allowing customers to return products for up to year without a reason, they offer personalized one-to-one communications through various channels and reward their most loyal customers (who typically are also their most vocal) with special promotions like free shipping. For Zappos, their relentless focus on their customers’ needs and wants has been quite rewarding as it’s grown into a billion dollar business in less than ten years.
Apple – It was certainly no accident the company changed its name from Apple Computer to Apple a few years back. The purveyor of all things technologically cool literally transformed itself into the ultimate consumer facing company that sells experiences instead of unfashionable looking desktop computers. Its focus on a simple and rewarding customer experience has turned not just the technology world on its head, but the retail sector too as evidenced by the success of the Apple retail stores. What is also unique for Apple is that their customer experience really gets revved up after the purchase. Or you can think of it this way, without iTunes where would the iPod be, or sticking with current trends, would the iPhone be as successful as it is without the App Store? The company was quick to realize in their transformation to a consumer company that their customers value experience, not just cool technology. Regardless of your industry or product category, you should definitely be able to pick something up from Apple.
Bank of America – Banking is generally one of those touchy subjects for teens and college students. Bank of America realized early on that they needed to build and develop relationships with the youth market and were one of the first to offer student-specific banking services. Bank of America was also an early adopter of social media, a pretty bold move for a company under a media microscope since the start of the financial crisis last year. Their customer experience sets a pragmatic tone of accessibility and convenience for the typically transient young adult. And just as important, its social media offerings help distill it from an image of being a stodgy old company that should be approached in the same way one would approach a library. It’s no coincidence that Bank of America’s iPhone app was the top financial services-related app downloaded by college students through the first half of 2009.