Social media is the second internet revolution. Texts, Photos and digitally generated online content form the basis for social media. While the ecommerce focused on online selling, social media became a tool to promote Ecommerce.
Social Media constitutes a double edged sword for Ecommerce. Where a positive feedback increases the sale, negative feedback has adverse impact on sales and brand equity. Social Media empowers people to give the feedback instantly through Smartphones. Thanks to numerous apps like twitter, Facebook, instagram, pinterest and etc.
With 3 billion smartphone users across the globe it is imperative for both the manufacturers and retailers to manage their reputation effectively, as social media puts the power back in customers hands, literally.
Here I would like to point three typical ways an Ecommerce firm can handle Social Media.
The biggest social media challenge for the Ecommerce firms is the social listening. It is important for Ecommerce companies to have a social listening tool. The social listening tool gets the keywords mentioned in Social Media tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and take the context of the feedback. Social Listening also helps in figuring out the competitor strengths and weakness.
How do you do the Social Listening?
Let us see some examples where social media listening was not done properly and its impact:
Qantas Airlines is a major airline based in Australia and actually, had about 3 twitter handles which the customers did not know. Qantas did not have a well-crafted strategy to handle social media and handled customer complaints, casually.
As a result of this, it led to more angry tweets from the customer and more customer dissatisfaction.
Another example, Hoxton Hotel came up with a campaign to offer 500 rooms for 1 pound each. And the sale got over in 60 seconds. But the customers took to twitter and called the campaign a hoax. So Hoxton earned 500 happy customers and more than 5000 disappointed ones? All due to not properly listening to social media and subsequent botched up handling of the events.
Most of the Ecommerce sites have a CRM tool namely Customer Relationship Management tool. This CRM enables the ecommerce site to pick up the orders, track the customer payments, issues with the customer etc.
Examples of CRM tool used by large players are salesforce.com, Oracle CRM and SAP CRM. Smaller players use open source CRM tool like Sugar CRM. For Ecommerce sites a CRM tool is a must as the Order to cash is fully tracked by CRM tools. Off late many of the CRM tools are out with a new module called Social CRM.
Social CRM is a module under conventional CRM which does the following things.
1. Social Listening
2. Analyzes the feedback or keywords mentioned in the social media and
3. Creates workflow in the CRM tool.
Examples of third party social CRM tools are Medallia, twitter counter, hootsuite, sproutsocial etc. integrate seamlessly with other CRM tools.
2. Respond, ASAP!
It is important for Ecommerce sites to have a presence in the mobile irrespective of the Platform be it Android or IPhone. As per Wikipedia, there are 2 billion android users in addition to the 1 billion iOS or Mac users, compared to the 1.4 billion windows users on desktops or laptops.
With this in mind, it is important for the mobile apps to be accessible and in cases where users have not downloaded the mobile apps, the light version of the web apps on mobile is mandatory. In short, Ecommerce sites should have the accessibility from any platform and anywhere.
The feedback from Social Media should be handled in real time. Feedbacks in general are categorized into, namely, Positive, Negative and Neutral. Among these, negative feedback deserves immediate attention.
While it is almost impossible to handle every feedback from Social Media manually, use technology to analyze the feedback sentiments automatically and craft a workflow to handle the negative feedbacks.
It would be a good thing to allow feedbacks in the Ecommerce site itself and any negative feedback should be handled effectively as it might have viral factor and the competitors will take advantage of the feedback.
Take a look at the image below on a high level monitoring workflow for social media
One of the best strategies is to provide an alternate option. We will explain this in next few seconds.
Look at the return/refund policy by several online retailers. The common thread among them is that they allow the people to return their goods in a convenient manner and ask for refund. Because of return/refund policy, customers directly express dissent to company/service providers. Customer still might express his dissatisfaction on social networking site but that number might be limited.
Also, many of these companies look for keywords related to their service using automated bots and immediately take action.
3. Improve Brand
71% of the customers who read something about the brand get influenced or get biased. Recently, an united airlines passenger was dragged out of the flight and this became viral within few minutes. This led to the resignation of the CEO.
Similarly United was caught in a trouble when a professional singer guitar was broken in 2009 and did not compensate $3500 the singer went viral with a music in YouTube. There could be two sides to any issue but if this is not managed immediately this causes ripples in the reputation of the company.
People can keep the CRM department engaged for fun and at some point in time it will be time consuming to do the damage control. So when a customer raises the issue in social media the first thing is to handle the situation so that it does not get aggravated. Online reputation can be defined as the practice of influencing or understanding online reputation using online tools.
There are three basic requirements to Reputation Management.
Manage the experience of the customers all the time.
- Manage the visibility of the product or service by being appropriately online.
- Mange the issues real time. About 69% of the customers leave because of poor service. Managing good service real time is important.
Arguably, this is the single most powerful tool that brings customers closer to sellers and give sellers the opportunity to listen, understand and respond to their customer, better than ever.
Social Media is not only a great platform for Ecommerce sites but has unlimited benefits, if used the right way. Everything starts with a thought. Start now. Think about an effective social media strategy and don’t worry, you can make it better as you and your team gains more experience.