Social Media Does Nothing to Enhance Loyalty

Implementing Social Media has no effect on Loyalty.

Loyalty is achieved over a long-time, building trusty relationships and consistently delivering to expectations – or exceeding them.  Expectations are set by the organization in response to customer’s needs, with an eye to what they can do to meet their needs as well.  Not providing service through a poor channel, for a specific experience, is better for Loyalty than under-delivering quality interactions.  Reducing the quality of an interaction, or not meeting customer’s demands, is a detriment to Loyalty over time.  Experiences and channels that don’t add to consistently over-delivering to expectations are discarded in favor of loyalty-building ones.

The “crazy dash” to Social Media has created low-quality interactions.

Not yet understanding what is needed to consistently and effectively deliver high-quality, high-value interactions in social media, led by the relatively newness of it and the lack of integration and tools, makes it a novelty.  Novelty is usually lost after the initial shock, leaving in its place an under-supported and poor-performing effort.  Twitter is just one example, and I wrote about it, but other channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and similar social networking sites suffer from the same problems.

The lack of traditional loyalty-driven brands in these places is telling.

To succeed long-term, and build and increase loyalty, organizations must plan properly how to create a presence in Social Media channels that focuses on building consistent, high-value, quality-driven interactions.  As they have done in other channels.  Don’t confuse their current state with no interest.  They are quietly analyzing and evaluating the best way to approach these channels.  As they have always done.

Do you want to use Social Media channels to create Loyalty? Or just be there? Got a Strategy?

6 Replies to “Social Media Does Nothing to Enhance Loyalty”

  1. Hi Esteban,

    The more I think about Twitter the more I’m seeing it as a “poor channel”, as you put it. It’s like trying to pound a nail with a saw. Just the wrong tool in vast majority of applications related to customer experience and, specifically, customer service.

    To use Twitter as a primary channel(or anywhere close to one) would be like mandating that all your traditional CSRs limit their handle time to 15 seconds.

    The reason, IMO, that a “channel” like Twitter apparently works in some cases is(besides plain hype for anything Web 2.0) because there is a traditional service channel(eg phone number) serving as foundation to the support experience. That is, we’ll instigate the conversation on Twitter(FB, etc.) but we’ve got the 1-800 number(or other channels) to fall back on when we really need to do some work(ie all the time). It’s a formula for hand-offs and discontinuity — something that always rates high among drivers of dissatisfaction.

    But as a company continues to use Twitter for support, customer expectations rise. The come to expect, even subconsciously, to receive a similar degree of support capability that they would calling the 1-800 number — in particular, FCR. Of course, this expectation cannot be met for majority of personal incidents(vs a system-wide outage) — at least not by current incarnation of Twitter(or any other mainstream sCRM tool). So, we have a situation where we’re raising expectations to levels we’ll very soon be unable to meet. Always a recipe for disaster — since Web 2.0, since Web 1.0 and hundreds of years before that.

    Now, as you say, “loyalty is achieved over a long-time” and long times are nothing but a sequence of shorter times…Moments of Truth happening over and over again. Can Twitter facilitate these day-to-day Moments of Truth in SOME way? Sure. So can it be a tool in the Loyalty Earning toolkit. Sure. But it’s a tool receiving a disproportionate amount of use, IMO.

    You make a good point about the strongest brands: “Don’t confuse their current state with no interest. They are quietly analyzing and evaluating the best way to approach these channels. As they have always done.” The move to sCRM can’t be impulsive. There IS “something there”. The mere fact that millions of customers are online and engaged with social media/networks behooves companies to have a look at sCRM.

    But in the area of customer experience in an era where competitors are a click away, rapid deployment and incremental improvement of a customer-facing tool is always difficult. Customers aren’t guinea pigs. Figure this out before you show up to play.

    Once you open that door, thousands of customers will come rushing in. Are you REALLY ready or them?

    Ok…I ramble again. I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning so apologies for any incoherence ; )

    Thought provoking, as always!

    Seattle, WA


  2. Esteban,

    I am not going to dispute what is written, with the exception of the title 🙂 I would alter slightly and state that “A Short Sighted Social Media Strategy does nothing to Enhance Loyalty”. The post seems to focus (feel free to correct) on pure customer service and 1 to 1 interactions. We all know that a great Social Media strategy cannot make up for a lousy product, as Graham Hill said a few days (weeks) ago “I just want it to do what it says on the tin”. Loyalty has many components.

    As for the rest of the post, I am of the position that if a company rushes to a Social Media strategy, they are going to get themselves in trouble. Companies need to participate, and become part of the conversation. A company that is visible as part of the ecosystem is important. The channel, as you suggest, is an important part of the decision (don’t do 5 if you cannot handle 2). You may have seen some of my Tweets to @KLM – which are still unanswered.

    I am not going to defend Twitter as a channel (we have had that conversation), but, a company may not be able to ignore it:

    Reason 1: It may very well be where their customers are located.

    Reason 2: While it may not be the case for all industries, often the expectations may have been set for you, like it or not, by others in your space.

    I like your last paragraph and would add the following point. What Social Media facilitates is quality information flow among the ecosystem, not just interactions with the company. There is value there, and value may lead to Loyalty.

    Mitch (@mjayliebs)


  3. Hi Esteban,

    I think you’re right that you can’t *only* use social media as a customer service channel, and that loyalty is a complex equation that’s made of many experiences on the customer’s side. But I disagree that Twitter can’t be used to complete customer service interactions. We do it all the time.

    But as I said, it’s not exclusive to Twitter. If you’re relying on that as a solo channel, your customer experience isn’t going to be supported properly. Some interactions require more in-depth and sophisticated work, and that’s where Twitter or other social networks can at least serve as a pathway to improved customer service (and not the silver bullet).

    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community


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