Using B2B Social Media to Create a Brand-Building Customer Experience

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As I was doing research for an upcoming presentation on digital branding, I came across some interesting stats that I believe have big implications for B2B marketers.

First, JD Power’s “Social Media Benchmark Study” provided showed that 2/3 of consumers used social channels for customer support, versus 33% who used social media to access marketing information. This is a consumer study, but B2B buyers are people, too, and it’s not a big leap to expect their habits as consumers influence their behavior in B2B interactions.

Second, American Express reported in 2012 that its research found social media users are willing for pay a 21% price premium to do business with companies that provide exceptional service. These buyers are also significantly more likely to say that they have not completed an intended purchase because of poor customer service.

These social media users will tell more people about a good experience, and they will also spread the word at a far greater rate about bad experiences.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of service requests and concerns expressed through social media are ignored. While businesses may engage in social listening, that doesn’t mean they’re responding!

Understanding trends in how customers want to be served is essential for B2B marketers whose goal is to build a brand that stand out. Superior service is a clear differentiator for business offerings as well as consumer markets.

It’s tempting to focus all our efforts on social media campaigns, contests and content. Doing so overlooks a huge opportunity to create brand experiences that build value for business-to-business customers.

Simply providing exceptional service can mean the difference between added brand equity and declining profits as customers go elsewhere. Taking cues from consumer marketing, B2B CMOs should be looking for ways to deliver customer-centric experiences.

Listening, responding and following up on social media requests sounds like a no brainer, but it’s not. Harnessing social media tools is one piece of the puzzle. Appropriate technology is required so that internal support teams can capture feedback and act on it, and fortunately these tools are readily available and quite affordable.

At the same time, internal teams need to be primed to take action. They should be trained to interpret messages that may seem – at least on the surface – to be innocuous. When a buyer expresses general frustration or disappointment, there is probably a deeper issue at stake that is worth pursuing.

Being proactive in reaching out to customers that voice concerns, even when they don’t mention your company by name, is a great place to start. Once those issues are identified, you need a process to track responses and ensure satisfaction beyond the social interaction.

Taking an issue offline at the appropriate time can create a more personal connection that reinforces brand value and leads to future sales.

When looking to expand your culture of social support, a corporate social media “Center of Excellence” can help. A cross-functional team can be very useful to establish corporate policies and procedures on how support requests surfaced through social media are handled.

If you have concerns about the progress of your B2B branding efforts, I’d encourage you to take a holistic look at your customer experience. Ask some probing questions like:

  • Are you able to capture customer complaints via social media?
  • Are all your touch points (social, email, chat, call centers) delivering consistent messages?
  • Are customer concerns given the same priority as sales opportunities, or does you company treat them as a distraction or nuisance?
  • Is the response offered via social media meeting customer expectations?
  • Are you proactively connecting with customers and prospects not just for sales, but for service as well?

With a little digging, you’ll quickly determine if you should step up your social media support to create a positive impact on your customer experience – and your brand.

About the Author:

Joellyn Sargent

This monthly Social Media for B2B Branding column is contributed byJoellyn “Joey” Sargent. As founder and principal of the Claravon Consulting Group, Joey provides the clarity, vision and insight that leaders need to create powerful momentum for growth. Her fresh perspectives and no-nonsense advice help leaders connect corporate strategy, organizational performance and customer experience, delivering breakthrough results with Maximum Market Impact™. Joey is a writer and keynote speaker, presenting around the world on business strategy, marketing, branding and social media. +Joellyn Sargent

Joellyn Sargent
This monthly Social Media for B2B Branding column is contributed byJoellyn “Joey” Sargent. As founder and principal of the Claravon Consulting Group, Joey provides the clarity, vision and insight that leaders need to create powerful momentum for growth. Her fresh perspectives and no-nonsense advice help leaders connect corporate strategy, organizational performance and customer experience, delivering breakthrough results with Maximum Market Impact™. Joey is a writer and keynote speaker, presenting around the world on business strategy, marketing, branding and social media. +Joellyn Sargent
Joellyn Sargent
PeopleLinx

Comments

  1. says

    We don’t actually think that people are : ‘ using social media to access marketing information’. Surely they are just seeing what their friends are liking because of the word of mouth factor? in local markets, this is the way to grow a customer base online.

  2. says

    I like how you mention that you should also pay attention to customer complaints that don’t mention your company by name. Even if that company is not you, you can be aware of what frustrates your potential customers. It can give you quite the advantage to profit from the other guy’s mistakes. If you don’t learn history, you are doomed to repeat it.

  3. says

    hi Steve and Leadgenix, what you both people said is right and in the same way the customer will always right to choose correct product on word from friends or social media or something else but time of purchaser mood will decide the product rating too.

  4. says

    Great point Joellyn. We should always consider improving our services as well as to respond immediately in customer’s complaints. This is a sure way for your marketing and business success because loyal customers may serve as walking advertisement. By taking your products and services to higher heights, this will also nurture your customers thus opening more possibilities of referrals. Words of mouth, that’s the best marketing strategy. :)

  5. Dwight says

    This article is a bit misleading as the importance of customer experience and service spans all channels. Social media aside it is a known fact that companies with high satisfaction ratings are more profitable than those without. Stating that 2/3′s of consumers “use” social channels for customer support seems pretty vague

    • says

      Hi Dwight, customer experience does span all channels, and social media is just one of many ways to connect with customers – a very important one, at that. I’m a proponent of a holistic strategy that integrates brand and customer experience across the organization. This column addresses the social media aspects of that approach.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Customer experience isn’t just a conversation for the marketing department.  It affects every area of your company, from HR to IT.  When we think of customer experience, we think of Nordstrom, Starbucks, or Apple.  Some companies are even creating ‘experience’ departments.  The goal is to create a system that will, in turn, create happy customers who will do business with you for years to come and tell their friends about it. […]

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