Companies 'ignoring role of social media'
Manama, April 7, 2013
Customers across the region are feeling neglected by consumer brands not because of the lack of communication but because of the lack of interaction on social media, according to a research undertaken by Merchants, a dimension data company and key shareholder of Silah Gulf, the Bahrain-based business process outsourcing and customer service provider in the GCC region.
The research identified 70 per cent of the respondents monitor social channels, but less than 5 per cent have integrated social media into other customer interaction channels such as their call centre, the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication citing the report.
Engaging the customer using social media not only generates leads but also generates increased loyalty and revenue, it added.
While some organisations refute social media's influence, others that recognise its impact, have appointed specialist teams to understand, monitor and plan a suitable response. Those who ignore social media do so at their peril, the report added.
"The latest data suggests that 51 per cent of companies acquire customers through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a company blog," the report said.
"A total of 79 per cent of online shoppers spend at least 50 per cent of their shopping time researching products. Social media adds another layer of complexity because of its latent power to engage large numbers of people.
"A simple customer complaint in the social media domain can damage brand reputations and lead to losses in revenue. Companies can no longer risk ignoring the customer, or fail to provide immediate follow up and take responsibility for what happened."
"The term customer engagement is most often referred to in terms of engagement with customers online," said Silah chief executive Joe Tawfik.
"In the contact centre industry, customer engagement refers to the stages consumers experience as they interact with a particular brand. The customer journey usually consists of five different stages: awareness, consideration, inquiry, purchase and retention. It's impossible to engage customers at each stage without a unified multi-channel strategy that incorporates social media."
"The Internet has enabled consumers to speak their minds about the products and services they like and dislike," he added.
"It has also enabled consumers to become tribal again. They no longer voice their opinions in isolation but find peer groups with the same belief systems about a product or service," said Tawfik.
"The Internet has become a tribal-enabling medium. If companies are to start understanding how to effectively address the changes brought on by social media they need to understand tribal behaviour and how to engage tribes," he stated.
"Thinking needs to shift away from online and offline engagement and be centred on understanding tribal behaviour and how to influence tribal leaders," he added.-TradeArabia News Service