Blending customer service and social media marketing

Facing a future of multi-channel retailing, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty with a dual-purposed social media strategy that leverages customer service.

Facing a future of multi-channel retailing, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty with a dual-purposed social media strategy that leverages customer service.

Consumers are continually turning to online sources to inform their purchases. Many use smartphones for price comparisons and product reviews, while others turn to social media sites for customer recommendations.

According to a study by Econsultancy, 90 percent of online customers trust recommendations from friends or family, while 70 percent trust other users even if they don't know them and 27 percent trust experts. In fact, the two have become so intertwined that Forrester Research considers customer service to be an essential part of social marketing.

Social networks are where customers go to share stories about positive and negative experiences with brands, Forrester reports. Marketing that was paid for is being replaced with marketing that is earned because of consumer reviews on social media, reports Ad Age.

To make the most of social marketing efforts, service and social teams should together plan the best way to handle a variety of customer responses. Employees should be cross-educated and they should share intelligence on software and customer service data, reports Forrester.