Fans and Followers aren’t enough: an interview with Charlotte Kennett of Lithium and Michel De Silva of Parrot

Everyone should be doing social. We all know that, it’s one of the guiding principles of digital marketing.

The problem is that although we all know that we need to do social, many brands don’t know much more than that. How do you go from getting a few likes here and there to using social media to create satisfied, passionate advocates of your brand?

For Charlotte Kennett, EMEA Marketing Manager at Lithium, the answer is seeing social media as one stage in the digital customer experience. Speaking at DMWF London, she cited research that showed that 67% of customers cite a bad experience as the main reason for leaving a brand.

For many people, being ignored on social media is a cardinal sin from which a brand cannot recover. Charlotte was joined by Michel De Silva, community manager at Parrot, a drone retailer with a large and active community, to talk about adapting to a changing customer experience environment.

We caught up with them after their talk.

Joining up the channels

When Michel started at Parrot, there was one technical support team that handled customer queries and a separate team that handled aftersales. There were also different organisational structures between different countries.

To get consistency in organisation and service, the company decided to unify the different teams and focus on the customer journey as a whole.

“We needed to be able to answer customer questions on a lot of different products in the community, but also on different channels such as Facebook and Twitter,” Said Michel. “So, depending on the channel, whenever they address us, we are able to answer them and bring them the information they are looking for.

the amount of digital touchpoints has increased 20% from last year alone

So, what is the main challenge of trying to have a singular, multichannel strategy. For Michel, the answer is simple: answering on time.

“The timing is very, very important. When you are in a forum there are always other users, peer users, to answer you, maintain discussion and share information. On Twitter or Facebook it is very different because the customer waits for an answer from the company so you need to be very, very quick to respond with a proper answer that is very accurate.”

For Charlotte, who deals with a lot of big, customer-facing companies, this is emblematic of one of the key challenges for multichannel businesses:

“Different people have different behaviours on different channels, and use different channels for different purposes. As a brand its crucial that you adapt accordingly. Obviously, the time to respond on Facebook messenger is going to be very different to a tweet or to a phone call, and the type of topics you address on different channels will vary. You have to be able to manage expectations.”

we are seeing an increasing demand to integrate chat channels

Another challenge is the increasing number of ways a customer can communicate with a brand. The amount of digital touchpoints has increased 20% from last year alone.

“We are seeing an increasing demand to integrate chat channels,” says Charlotte. “We have recently integrated WeChat that is one of China’s most active conversation channel. At the end of the day, if brands engage on these new channels, they also need to have a capacity to answer on these channels.”

Early this year, Lithium compiled research that found 98% of brands that broadcast on social media fail to respond to their followers on social, “This means that they go out there and shout at customers, but don’t actually take the time to respond – a one-way conversation,” Charlotte continues. “This poses a big risk, if you don’t do it properly if you don’t field that conversation then you will miss out.”

Measuring success in a changing environment

How should brands measure success with regards to a digital customer environment that seems to be changing by the minute. Is the answer to be found in reams of metrics or is it about something more fundamental?

Customer retention is at the top at Michel’s list. “Before it was about measuring the number of cases, it was on the basis of quantity. So, a customer would make a claim or a request and we would create a case. The mission was to close that case so that we know that we answered the question and the we can move on to the next one. Now with social media, it is all about answering on time but without such a laser focus of closing the query as fast as possible.”

This is the shift from simply ‘doing’ social media, to integrating it into a digital customer experience strategy. As Charlotte, puts it:

“You’ve got impressions? Great, now what? You’ve got retweets? Right, now what? Where’s the actual business impact?

this is the shift from simply ‘doing’ social media, to integrating it into a digital customer experience strategy

“Brands that do digital customer experience right see an uplift of 140% in average basket value because people have a good experience and will spend more with your brand. It is important for the marketing team, the customer experience team and the support team to be aligned with one baseline. Over the 4 years I have been at Lithium, I’m really happy to have seen teams and brands get more professional at that. When I started it was really a case of entry level metrics. Things are now maturing as social teams grow, budgets are growing and the whole measurement process is really growing in sophistication.”

It is important to remember that what counts as measurable success varies with different channels. Michel adds: “We can provide a lot of data but it means nothing if we don’t answer a specific question.”

In the end, it all comes down to having a clear business objective. For many community-driven brands like Parrot, it starts with a relatively simple to measure objective like call deflection. This foundation can then be built upon with other measurable steps such as retention or customer acquisition. 

“It’s about thinking about things from the standpoint of the customer journey, whether that's before or after the purchase,” says Charlotte. “You want to be able to connect to the customer at the right point of the journey with the right content, so even though you are a small brand, how are people getting to know you? How are people engaging? What are the various touchpoints and how can your brand serve the right content at the right time?”

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