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Social Media Is Now a Viable Support Channel
Direct messaging, tighter security, and data integration add to social media's feasibility as a customer service platform
For the rest of the December 2015 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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For Hyatt Hotels, finding out how to better serve guests at any one of its more than 600 hotels and resorts worldwide seldom requires going any further than its Twitter customer service handle, @HyattConcierge. The handle currently has nearly 63,000 followers and receives about 15,000 customer interactions per month.

"We've been doing social media since 2009. We jumped on it very early on," says Dan Moriarty, director of social strategy at Hyatt Hotels, which is based in Chicago.

Hyatt's contact center agents are available to answer customer issues through sites such as Facebook and Twitter—and to a lesser degree, Instagram, Snapchat, and a few others—24 hours a day, 365 days a year. "If you are talking about one of our hotels while you are staying in our hotel, we will respond," Moriarty says.

The response when a customer reaches out via social media typically comes in 15 minutes or less, which is one of the reasons that Hyatt Hotels won a 2015 Skiftie Award, recognizing the best travel brands in social media, from American Express. Hyatt was also singled out for responding to a very high percentage of the posts it receives.

But Hyatt's use of social media for customer service is more than just reactive. "It's not just about seeing when something is wrong and fixing it," Moriarty says. It's about listening—really listening—to what customers are saying on social media. If a guest likes a certain pillow, he wants the hotel to remember that the next time he books a stay. If he's there on business or for a funeral or a wedding, he wants the hotel to adjust its service accordingly.

Using Conversocial's social listening platform, Hyatt not only can see and respond to posts about the company in minutes, but the tool also enables Hyatt to analyze tweets to better understand customer needs and create customer appreciation opportunities.

A UNIQUE USE CASE

To say that Hyatt has a unique approach to social media would be an understatement. Today, many companies still don't have any presence on Twitter. And those companies that do respond to only about 60 percent of the tweets directed at their customer service accounts, according to Twitter. Social analytics firm Social Bakers paints an even bleaker picture. According to its most recent data, companies with Twitter pages answered fewer than 30 percent of the 7 million questions that consumers asked them via Twitter in the second quarter of this year.

Companies are doing much better on Facebook, answering 76 percent of the 1.5 million questions consumers asked via that medium in 2015's second quarter, Social Bakers found.

Those numbers indicate that roughly 5 million posts on Twitter and 350,000 posts on Facebook went unanswered in the past three months alone.

That's very dangerous for companies, according to Mikkel Svane, founder and CEO of Zendesk. "As consumers, we have an incredibly loud voice today, thanks to social media," he says. "Anyone can turn into a promoter or detractor for your brand very quickly. The voice of the customer has never been louder."

For brands, the impact on the bottom line can be staggering as well. Conversocial reported recently that 88 percent of consumers admitted that they would be less likely to buy from companies that don't respond to questions raised on social media.

"I've left brands that didn't service me properly on social," Moriarty confesses.

Conversely, companies that do respond typically see a 30 percent to 50 percent improvement in several key areas, including customers' likelihood to recommend them and to make repeat purchases from them, according to a recent Forbes study, "Only the Best Will Do When It Comes to Customer Loyalty."

And a recent study by Aberdeen Group found that companies with social customer care capabilities increased their year-over-year revenue per contact by 18.8 percent over companies without them.

Responding is one thing, but the speed of the response is also important. "You do have to respond, and you should do it quickly," says Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial. "People have a very high expectation for response times. An hour is the maximum that they will wait."

Nicola Millard, a futurist at BT, the British multinational telecommunications services company, sets the expectations even higher. While consumers are happy to look for the answers to their questions on their own through company Web sites and mobile apps, when they reach out to customer support via social media, 79 percent expect a response within 15 minutes, he says. "The digital world lives in the moment," Millard adds. "Customer service has to follow suit."

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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