Online retail & shopping is changing from a transactional model of e-commerce with buying decisions of online shoppers getting influenced by social communications and the fundamental shifts taking place in the online social environment. Today’s online shopper is not just a buyer of goods & services. They are social shoppers who also play the role of critics, brand ambassadors, product experts, & are key influencers in buying decisions within their social circles and even beyond
While the mouth-to-mouth sharing of experiences is nothing new and has been happening since time immemorial, the fundamental change is in the the magnitude of the inter-connectedness that social platforms bring to the table and the reach of these platforms. The voice that an individual has as part of the larger eco-system. (combine this with above reach point and just realize the impact it has?). The level of openness, transparency & discoverability that the changing online social platforms are bringing. Consumers are no longer shy of expressing themselves and acknowledging that they made a good or a bad decision in buying a particular good/service. Fundamentally, Social Platforms are transforming the way people behave online
A recent survey of internet users in the UK revealed that
- 70% have purchased a product/service online
- 53% have reviewed a product/service online
- 30% have sent a product recommendation to a friend online
Buyers are getting influenced by the social product reviews and not just marketing pitches by the brands. In-fact, customer’s reviews are fast catching up with search engines towards influencing online purchase decisions. Empowered customers are increasingly motivating other shoppers and triggering purchase considerations. While lowest price/VFM pricing is still a large influencer of online purchase decisions but it is not just the only & sole driving factor. Infact, research suggests that customers are willing to pay premium for a 5* rated product vs a 3* rated product. The purchase trigger/consideration/decision making process is moving more & more online – driven by social feeds. (previously, the consideration process was offline, with just the purchase transaction being done online)
So, what does this mean to the online retailers?
Online retailers need to understand these social changes taking place online and get plugged into the social, collaborative, emergent, inter-connected online market place for building differentiated offerings, relationships & touch points with the customers.
Is your retail/online strategy ready to leverage the social phenomenon?
There is no criminal offence against organizations trying to cross-sell & up-sell to their customers. In fact, that is desired and if it can be done correctly & effectively, it can be a win-win situation for both the customer & the organization.
Here is an example of an attempt by Standard Chartered Bank, trying to cross-sell a loan to me, gone horribly wrong. Infact it makes you wonder, what were people @ Standard Chartered Bank smoking when they did this 🙂
I wonder how did the bank determine all this and am curious about finding this out. I want to know what does ‘pre-selected’ mean. I want to find out what is special about this offer from the bank to me
I want to try this and hence give it a go and use ‘click to apply’
This is where I get a shock. At first I wonder if I have clicked on the wrong link. I go back and click again. No luck. It is still the same page where I am being asked to fill in every detail of mine again.
How come? Wait a minute, wasn’t I pre-selected for the loan?
Then it strikes that this is nothing but a very shoddy attempt by the bank at cross-selling. Infact this is nothing but an online version of ‘baiting’ with misleading information and if I may say done purposefully.
Infact, there is nothing ‘pre-selected’ about this whole thing. This is almost a scam for me — from an ethical sense.
Believe me, Standared Chartered Bank can do better with all the info it already had about me.
What do you think? Is the bank being ethical in trying to cross-sell by baiting customers with misleading information?
Have you come across attempts at cross-selling gone horribly wrong? Do share..
A vital component of owning a product or consuming s service is Customer Service. In-fact, how good/bad customer service is, has a major influence during the buying decision of a product/service.
As part of using customer service, most of us would have had an experience interacting with a human being — either over phone or through emails/systems. Many a times I have wondered if it is actually a human being at the other end of the phone line/email or some programmable robot spewing out canned responses.
Just have a look at numerous customer review websites like mouthshut.com, consumercomplaints.in, community portals, twitter etc and you will get the drift.
A recent post Efficiency vs Effectiveness had highlighted this aspect of customer service and how organizations in today’s social eco-system need to take an effectiveness based approach. Social Monitoring & Analysis tools, like Radian6 Visible Technologies etc can get you a sense of what your customers, in social channels, are talking about your products & customer service. Now, while technology can get you all this information, the key challenge is how organizations respond & engage with customers.
Organizations have 2 choices:
Cookie Cutter Approaches == Efficiency, Repeatability, Consistency, Productivity, Scalability, Mass rollout, Can be outsourced, Traditional measures, Easy trainability etc.
Engagement, Dialogue & Conversations == Each transaction is new, Customer of one, Extreme Personalization, Empathy, Human Centric. New age organizations are realizing this and are in the process of creating roles like “Community Managers” to interact with consumers in the social channels.
Let’s understand the differences in the above 2 approaches through these sample responses
“Thanks for sharing your problem. I’ve looked into it and have taken the dealer to task. The problem lies with your head gasket. Please take the car to the dealer and we’ll sort it out ASAP. “
“Greetings from XYZ Company. Our cars are the most reliable and this is proven by 5,00,000 customer cars on the road today. We cannot be held responsible for the way you have used your car”
“Looks like your low battery is due to bad sensor, or a loose connection. Please bring it to the service station and we will glad to diagnose & help”
“The ABC battery has been officially certified for 35 hours backup by CERCI”
“Yes, we realize that our dealers from the northern part of country need a severe ramp-up and are in the process of doing so. Existing dealers are being taken to task, and newer customer-focused dealers are being shortlisted”
“DEFG India prides itself on the No.1 position in customer satisfaction survey. Our dealerships provide industry-leading after-sales service“
Which one do you think is more human, engaging & conversation centric? Which one would you prefer? Do you have some views & experience to share on customer service?
Most organizations having customer service support/care have been following the best practices, six sigma approaches to measuring efficiency & productivity of their customer service agents — how much time to close a call, how many tickets closed, what is the throughput, how fast the transactions are happening, etc. The emphasis is on ‘closure‘ the reflex action is to ‘respond & close’. The organizational structure, processes, metrics, rewards & ethos/culture is built around this philosophy of ‘efficiency‘. It doesn’t matter if the channels are the internet based ticketing systems, call center based support, email bases support or even brick & mortar support — everywhere the emphasis is on efficiency & productivity.
Enter the Social World:
With almost every organization embarking on a social media strategy, they find themselves using the same philosophy, yardstick, approach of the traditional customer service approach — a transactional approach, on social media. Somehow organizations don’t realize that the playing field is different and the rules are different now.
In the social paradigm, organizations need to realize that the key is to have meaningful conversations that can lead to insights for actions. Customer service agents need to take time, think and actually hear people out before engaging in a dialogue with your customers. This calls for a new way of thinking, a new approach, a new philosophy — where the organization & the customers are speaking in a shared and common language. Where the organization is part of the audience, where it is OK to accept mistakes, where it is OK to be ‘human’ & empathize with the customer, where it is OK to have small talk with customers and not just focus on closing the call ASAP.
This now calls for the organizations to measure their call center agents on ‘how many conversations‘ they had, how much dialogue they are having. Not only just with the customer but even internally within the organization on linking what the customers are saying to various parts of the organization — how much collaboration are employees having internally?
This calls for organizations to be rewired for the right processes, metrics, training, coaching, ethos required in the social world.
Social is a totally new mindset — one of ‘effectiveness‘ and not just about ‘efficiency‘
So, if your organization is starting out on a social customer care journey, do understand the difference between efficiency & effectiveness.
That will ensure that you know the rules of the game & the playing field before your begin the game
Here is my story of experiencing ‘first hand’ the power of social media in customer care. Some time back I had done online shopping from http://www.yebhi.com/ and somehow the service went horribly wrong
So, what do I as a customer do? I send email to their customer support….
- No response for 2 days (In internet era, customers except instant response)
- Reminder email after 2 days
- Standard response from company customer service
- Customer still not satisfied. Sends email again but then no response for 2 weeks from company. Total dead end for customer
Frustrated & pissed, I revert to social media sites and post my horrid experience with yebhi.com on a customer review community website. And viola..!!! Like magic, things move and issue is resolved in 2 days.
- Customer marketing team identified issue – Social Media works in Marketing
- Some one from the organization quickly follows up with the customer and addresses the issue – Social Media works in Customer Service
- Customer informs the company & acknowledges that issue is addressed – Social Media works in in socializing, word-of-mouth marketing
- Organization satisfied a customer – Social Media works in customer service
Do you, as a customer, have any stories of experiencing social customer care? Is your organization ready for such scenarios?