Across B2B and B2C channels, the rise of social media platforms has had a major impact on how companies connect with their customers.
This is a great opportunity, allowing firms to offer around-the-clock, reactive support to the people who make their business a success – but it can also pose a host of challenges, especially for organisations without the infrastructure and talent in place to deal with it.
Topshop marketing director Sheena Sauvaire recently spoke to Retail Week about the role social is playing in its operation, highlighting the trendy clothing firm's use of Pinterest as a way of engaging with young, web-savvy consumers.
She said: "This gave us another insight into how crowd-sourced recommendations can drive purchase in the physical space. The results were positive and I think it shows how peer-to-peer influence continues to be a driving factor, particularly for the younger shopper."
As m-commerce begins to reach maturity, this will provide another data source – but also another challenge – for marketers keen to harness the power of customer information.
eBay vice-president of UK marketplaces Tanya Lawler told the news provider that 2014 will see a further drive towards integrating social, mobile and other platforms with overall engagement processes.
"There’s a huge opportunity for brands to capitalise on the sweet spot between utility and engagement," she posited.
Research from KANA Software recently found that consumers' 'expectation reflex', meaning how quickly they expect brands to respond to complaints and queries, has shrunk drastically in the social media age.
Companies need to combine utility and engagement in the way Ms Lawler suggests to work well with customers.
Of course, for retail brands this type of approach needs to be converted into sales if it is to have a tangible impact on the bottom line and provide a strong return on investment.
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