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One of the premier goals a company adopts social media is knowing their customers and try to provide them what is termed as a better ‘Customer Experience‘. It would be great if your brand’s name would be mentioned by your Fans as well as Non Fans. But then, knowing what they are actually saying about you is equally important. Good Things,Bad things, All sorts of things, your job is to listen to them and respond in an apt manner and hopefully in such a way which can change their tone. Converting a furious customer in to your advocate is difficult but not impossible.

Take the case of Mansi Trivedi and Flipkart. This would be one great example when an irated customer tried to reach the company through the social media space and the response being quick and agile converted a prospective customer to an advocate of the brand. (And Mansi gets a Free book from Flipkart too :P). Customer Engagement is one of the key factors to determine Sentiment around your brand around the web. So what exactly is a Customer Engagement? Long story short,

It is basically a repeated interaction by a customer which strengthens his emotional/psychological bond with the brand

 Brands on Social Media basically strive for three long term goals:

  • Increase in Sales
  • Lower Costs
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction

You might focus on any one or on all the three. But more or less any goal the comapny strives for achieving through Social Media is soemwhere or the other linked to these three goals. And these three complement each other perfectly.

An increase in customer satisfaction increases your brand’s awareness,which in turn might boost your sales as your customers tend to stick around with you for a longer time and those who advocate your products try to bring in more prospects. Many companies now a days are providing support through Social Media for two basic reasons:

  • Social Media is Free
  • Support is where people are

So if a brand like FlipKart provides support to me in a record time, i would be more than happy to recommend it to my friends. This would not only add a faithful customer to it’s long list but also compel my followers and friends to take a look at their website if they are remotely considering buying anything at that instant. Hence in the end, it is all a viscous cycle

As Jim Sterne rightly pointed out in his book for Social Media Metrics, Customer Engagement goes through five phases:

  • Awareness
  • Engagement
  • Persuasion
  • Conversion
  • Retention
Being aware of your brand does not allow you success. What drives or persuades a fan to being converted to being a Customer of your products are the type of products you are offering as compared to your competitors and most importantly, what the fellow fans are saying about you.
So if i have to buy a laptop, i simply would not go to a store and buy it. I will go to the brand’s Facebook page,check out different forums where people are discussing about the positive’s and negatives about your products and as well as compare it with your competitors. If your brand is driving enough engagement with your customers in terms of offers/content and support, i might be tempted to tilt in your favor.
That is where Awareness becomes Persuasion and eventually leads to a sales prospect. Retention on the other hand comes as an After Sales effort but is equally important to make sure you hold on to the customer base you have and lead the conversations your fans are having with a positive vibe around the product by providing apt support to the people online and quick. This not only retains your customer base, but helps them be the advocates of your brand which would further instigate your brand to new heights and probably greater brand value.