Retailers Plan To Expand into Online Customer Service

There was an interesting article in The Wall St Journal last week about the value of social media. In a piece called “Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media”, Sarah E. Needleman quotes Pace University's Lubin School of Business marketing professorLarry Chiagouris regarding the challenge eBusiness executives face in assessing social media: “The hype right now exceeds the reality”. 

I agree that the reality has not always lived up to the hype.  But was the hype too good or the reality not good enough? 

The WSJ quotes a survey of US small business owners saying that only 22% made a profit from promoting their firms on social media, 53% broke even, and 19% lost money after promoting their business on social media. 

But profit doesn’t equal social media success. Social media can have many objectives and customer service is a growing goal. 

eBusiness executives are increasingly looking to social media as part of a larger customer service strategy; currently,  in our recent survey of retail executives (Q4 2009 US Retail Executive Online Survey), 54% offer customer ratings or reviews, 23% have an online community or forum, and 16% do customer support through Twitter.  These numbers are poised to grow in the next twelve months with a further 30% planning to implement customer ratings or reviews, 27% planning an online community or forum, and 21% planning to provide customer support through Twitter. 

eBusiness professionals must ask the following questions before they launch social customer service (or any social strategy) to ensure their implementation and subsequent assessment reflect the real potential:

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Seniors are a unique segment for online customer service

Using consumer data to challenge assumptions about how consumer segments will respond to various online customer service touch points is always interesting to me.

I’ve recently had an opportunity to the seniors (age 65+) and online customer service and found some interesting characteristics of the segment:

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Twitter and Online Customer Service: Are Your Ears Burning?

Diane Clarkson [Posted by Diane Clarkson]

 

A recent analysis by PR firm Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital Media found that more than half of Fortune 100 companies are using Twitter with two thirds of these companies using Twitter for some kind of customer service function.

 

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Introducing my new coverage area: eCommerce & Online Customer Service

Travel Email Customer Service Leaves Much To Be Desired

Diane Clarkson [Posted by Diane Clarkson]

When I speak with travel eBusiness professionals, it is clear that they value their customers and want this to be reflected throughout their online research to their travel experience.

Why then do travelers overwhelmingly feel that travel companies are failing to make them feel valued? Only 29% of online travelers believe travel companies are making strong efforts to make them feel valued.

I’ve wondered if there is simply a disconnection – that the best efforts of a dedicated marketing team can be thwarted by a weather delay, bad traffic, or a grumpy desk clerk.

We will be publishing a report shortly on making travelers feel valued. In the course of researching this report, I’ve paid a lot of attention to the how travel companies communicate. There is an old expression that the “devil is in the details”. I disagree. Sometimes the big picture is the accumulation of details.

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Observations after the Microsoft Travel Marketing Summit

Diane Clarkson [Posted by Diane Clarkson]

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What does swine flu mean for the travel industry?

Travel Stats Should Jolt Any Complacency

Diane Clarkson [Posted by Diane Clarkson]

I was speaking with a friend today about the state of the economy and its impact on travel. This friend is a survivor of the travel industry’s catalog of crisis over recent years: 9/11, SARS, airline bankruptcies, soaring fuel costs. His view was that the travel industry has become complacent in its approach to crisis.

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The Current US Economy and Opportunities for Canada Tourism

Diane Clarkson [Posted by Diane Clarkson]

I had the opportunity to attend Canada e-Connect last week in Toronto. This is Canada's e-Tourism Strategy Conference presented by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. Mobile marketing and social media were two of the most popular topics both on the agenda and in conversations among delegates.

Certainly the most repeated conversation I had was about how the economic environment in the US will impact Canadian tourism. Beneath gloomy economy clouds, there may be some optimism for Canadian tourism with the possibility of Americans heading above the 49th parallel to seek the beauty of the Great White North and its' favourable exchange rate.

American travelers will not, however, be a "if you build it, they will come" situation. Canadian destination marketing organizations should consider the following to attract American travelers:

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