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Gone are the days when your customers were willing to wait a day or two for a response. The immediacy of social networks is leading to new interaction norms between brands and consumers. Not only are channel preferences changing, response expectations are shifting as well.

One-third of today’s consumers expect a response to their social media post within half an hour. If their issue is more complicated, such as a question or complaint, three-quarters of customers expect a response within an hour. These assumptions also carry into the weekend, when more than half of customers think response times should be the same as Monday through Friday hours.

So how are brands keeping up? So far, not great. According to a recent study of 98 top global brands on Twitter, 54% send less than one @reply per day. Recent data from Sprout Social revealed average social response times per industry. On average, brands have a 10 hour response time.

Faster Response = Better Business

Providing clients with the interaction they want, when they want it, can drive better business results. When evaluating your social programs, it’s important to recognize the far-reaching impact of providing a comprehensive social media customer care program and to put mechanisms in place to track your business results. The results can include revenue growth, cost savings, increased customer loyalty and insider insights on customer needs.

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Developing an Integrated Channel Approach

In the early days of social media, social efforts were frequently implemented in a vacuum. Often, one brand, or one leader, would champion social participation and isolated pilot efforts. Today’s more advanced social customer care activities require coordination among key stakeholders — namely, marketing, consumer affairs and external brand agencies. Goals must be defined to support each audience and to determine the roles and responsibilities specific to each group.

In an Integrated Channel Approach, there are specific nuances to social media customer care. It’s wise to remember that to the consumer, social media is just another channel, and levels of service expectations are the same as with traditional methods. Just as other support channels (phone, chat, email, etc.) are integrated to deliver customer care, so should social media be equally considered when designing the solution. Companies who push the envelope are able to deliver enhanced customer interactions and provide a consistent experience across multiple channels.

Benefits of the Integrated Channel Approach include:

Delivering customer care through social channels takes discipline. Utilize an approach that integrates social media activity into existing operational tracking tools to effectively evaluate your progress and enhance success.

Brands that set social customer care as a priority stand to win loyalty and uncover untapped insights. Chances are that your customers are engaging with you on social media… Are you paying attention?

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