Is it just us or did 2018 fly by? It's been another busy year that's seen lots of changes from the social networks and customer expectations, through to how brands are approaching social media customer care. As we rapidly approach 2019, it's important to consider what the next year will hold.
To share thoughts on the challenges, opportunities and trends heading our way, we asked 10 social media customer service experts to share their predictions for the coming year! Read on to discover what they said and what you might need to prepare for successful social media customer care in 2019! 💥
But before we get into the predictions we just wanted to say a big thank you to our contributors for sharing their thoughts! 👏
1. Excellent social media customer service could replace social media marketingWhile the world of social media has mainly been dominated by a focus on content, marketing and campaigns, customer service could be about to take centre stage. Is it possible that brands have been looking at social media in the wrong way and instead of trying to generate content, focusing on service and creating a community could provide better results? 🔥
"I believe that social media for customer service has a golden opportunity in 2019 and beyond to be the focus of organic social media marketing, or should I say customer success marketing, opportunities for brands. I have come to the conclusion that brands in general suck at social media marketing, but customer service professionals are absolutely passionate at helping people solve problems.
I believe that consumers, at the heart of it, do not want to have conversations with brands on social media unless it is related to a purchase they made or complaint they may have. This means, in my honest opinion, that brands with responsive, helpful, and savvy social customer service on social media are those that will end up winning the social media marketing game in the future."
2. The rise of instant messaging
It's not just how customers interact with brands that's changing, it could also be where. Every year new social networks are created and consumers find new platforms to engage on. While your organisation might prioritise certain social media channels to communicate, it's crucial to monitor where you audience are moving to! 📱
"I believe the biggest shift we'll see in 2019 is towards more instant messaging. Whatsapp is a platform that's perfect for customer service and a tool I've personally used with brands like Zara. It's something we'll be looking into next year because if enough organisations get involved it's only a matter of time before it's a new mainstream channel."
3. Preparing for greater customer demand on social media
More and more customers are starting to view social media as their main channel of communication with organisations as opposed to making a call or sending an email. This channel shift is still a big factor for brands to contend with in 2019 and in order to meet customer expectations, organisations need to have prepared internally. 🔜
"Here at north star our focus is to ensure we are fully prepared for an increase of our tenants using social media. Since using CrowdControlHQ we've noticed an increase in interactions over Facebook and I am expecting this to grow and continue. With this in mind I want to ensure my team are responding speedily and effectively as there is an added expectation as a customer that social media will provide the quickest response."
4. Adopting a human touch to stand out
Since social media customer service is becoming more established, brands are beginning to match each others' service. But for organisations looking to set themselves apart, just following the crowd isn't enough! 2019 could be the year that we start to see more differentiation of service on social media. ✨
"One big focus for 2019 is how to truly stand out from others in such a diluted market both with content, paid advertising and customer service. There's a fairly standard approach to customer service across the board. How can we do customer service differently to stand out and make a change? We truly believe it's all about that human touch."
5. The era of personalisation
Technology is paving the way for greater information sharing and consumers expect organisations to use the information they've willingly shared with brands to provide a more tailored service that's unique to them. But for lots of organisations, getting the right information about the right customer to the right member of your social media customer service team in a timely manner is still a challenge. Will 2019 be the year brands start putting more formal information sharing processes in place for social media? ℹ️
"We've gone through a period of mass marketing and the end of that is now very much upon us. As we enter 2019 we're now seeing much more personalisation on social media and a focus on emotional connection as we move away from just presenting 'stuff' and towards adding value.
Ultimately that means you have to know your customer well enough to provide that added value and tailor your social customer service accordingly!"
6. The power of being open and honest on social media
There's many practices on social media we've just taken as standard, including using phrases like "technical difficulties" as a blanket statement to cover issues rather than just telling customers what has actually happened. The real opportunity for 2019 may just be to start bringing some of these walls down! 💪
7. Building specialist teams for social media customer care
Whilst your organisation might have the right technology, budget, and resources to meet changing customer expectations on social media. Are your teams prepared? When most of our colleagues use social media in some way in their personal and/or professional lives, it's easy to forget they're not experts. Taking the time to consider the training you might need to provide, and the specialist skills you might need to recruit to deliver the best social media customer care is key! 👩🏫
"For us it’s all about engagement, creating content that our customers want to interact with. We’ve introduced engagement as one of our KPIs, so we can measure the success of our content and use the data to refine and improve our content. After all - why would you keep on churning out content that wasn’t hitting the mark with your customers?
We're also looking at the following areas in 2019:
- Ensuring speedier response times as people expect an immediate reply on social.
- Building specialist teams for social media customer care to bring in personality and create dialogue.
- Create more video content that's simple and straightforward to inform and entertain."
8. Capitalising on chatbots
As consumers get used to brands providing faster responses on social media, could even a 10 minute wait time feel too long? While some brands are only starting to dip their toes into the world of chatbots, we may well see greater use of them to deliver the immediate responses customers demand on social media! 🤖
"Customers, when reaching out to us, expect an ever-faster response on their chosen social channel. If you’ve ever used a live chat service, you’ve probably experienced that vague, sneaking suspicion that the person you’re chatting with might be a robot.
Today chatbots will continue to grow and in 2019 likely to become more user friendly in the eyes of the online consumer. Love them or hate them, chatbots are here to stay. In 2019 I expect chatbots to be the first place to go and enquire about a product or service."
9. Answering questions that haven't even been asked yet
For lots of organisations, data holds the information they need to take their social media customer service to the next level. There's so much to be learnt from the way brands have engaged with their audiences over 2018 and exploring this information can help organisations to become more proactive rather than reactive! 🙌
"We've built up such a wealth of data that for us the next step is to take a deep dive into that information to understand what the trends are and the common themes. We already found there were lots of people thinking that all new builds are the same quality and we strongly believe that's not the case - we have a premium product and our customers come to us because of that.
We got so many messages along that line that we actually went and shot some high-quality content directly targeted against that message. This has been really successful for us and there's so many more questions we can answer before they get asked so our focus for 2019 is to do more of this and get on the front-foot!"
10. The challenge of being compared to every other brand on social media
It's easy to get caught up in comparing your organisation to your direct competitors on social media. But are your customers really only judging you against others in your sector? 🤔
"Social Media has changed the game for customer service and 2019 will be the more challenging than ever before. Organisations no longer only compete with their direct competitors and only in their sector. Customer service is now delivered on the same platform(s) so all organisations will be compared to the the best in class. Who would have thought that all organisations will be judged against John Lewis or Vodafone!"
That concludes our round up of advice, tips, and insights from 10 of the UK's leading figures in social media customer service. Big thank you again to our contributors who shared their predictions for customer care in 2019! 👏 It's clear to see that for organisations willing and able to make change, there are plenty of opportunities to exceed customer expectations, stand out from the crowd, and take social media customer service to the next level! 🙌 Explore our social media customer service software.
As always, we want to hear what you think! Do you agree with our experts or do you have slightly different predictions? Let us know on Twitter @CrowdControlHQ, or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! 📩