More customers turning to social media to resolve complex problems
Increasing numbers of consumers are turning to social media first to voice complaints, have complicated situations resolved, and even in the case of a crisis, according to new research.
A survey of 1,000 UK adults by customer contact outsourcer Echo Managed Services has revealed that almost one in five people (18 percent) use social media as first preference to voice a complaint, over other channels including phone, face to face, email and web chat.
In addition, 18 percent turn to social media before any other channel when a complicated problem arises and, surprisingly, 14 percent turn to it first in a crisis – when a flight is cancelled, for example.
Social media would also be first preference for 13 percent of respondents who would use the channel to request information, and a further 14 percent to make a booking. The research also revealed that almost 1 in 3 (29 percent) of consumers would move their custom elsewhere if they encountered poor service.
Experts from Echo are now urging companies to reassess where the social media function sits within their organisation, recommending that prime responsibility should sit with customer service teams, rather than in marketing.
Commenting on the findings Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at Echo Managed Services, said: “The findings of our research clearly demonstrate a consumer willingness to use social media in a variety of situations - perhaps most notably in complicated ones or when making a complaint. As issues raised through the channel can be unpredictable and played out in front of a potentially enormous public audience, it raises challenges in terms of who within an organisation manages social media.
“Due to the varied nature of enquiries being presented, we believe that it should be managed predominantly by the customer services function – who are experts in handling multi-channel customer enquiries day in day out, rather than the marketing department. But what’s crucial is that customer services and marketing work closely together and not in isolation. Real time customer feedback must inform and direct marketing communications, therefore it’s alarming to see so many cases of a clear disconnect between these teams.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.