Automotive companies were early adopters of social media, and historically were in pole position for promoting their products through these platforms.
Yet research from SocialBakers reveals that they may have been slow to realise their full potential as customer service channels, with just 30% operating a dedicated social media service account.
This represents a missed opportunity for the automotive industry. Working alongside other service channels, social media can form a key part of the customer experience mix, as a key tool in supporting the customer journey.
In addition to helping to generating loyalty, it also has the potential to boost the bottom line – companies that do leverage their social channels see revenue per contact improve by 6.7 per cent year-on-year through up-selling, cross-selling and overall reduction in customer churn.
Managing the customer journey: from awareness to advocacy
Through simple steps, social media can be an effective means of nurturing consumers through the key stages of the customer journey, through from awareness, purchase, retention and brand advocacy. Here are five potential scenarios where social media can make a difference:
Make it easy as possible for customers to find information about your products and brand. In the earliest stages of their journey, proactively sharing features, hints and tips is a simple way of boosting brand awareness.
Social is also a space to be creative – sharing varied, multimedia content, such as videos, infographics and images, carries strong visual appeal, and is a simple way of boosting higher engagement by ensuring you stand out to potential customers.
Channel-specific strategies can deliver even stronger results. Working with Instagram influencers, for example, provides an opportunity to leverage the power and reach of social media.
A high-profile figure sharing a positive experience will achieve broader cut-through and a more diverse audience than the brand’s channels alone.
Encourage consideration through a product launch
Customers regularly turn to social media to help them make a purchasing decision, checking product reviews and asking questions to brands directly about particular products.
Building anticipation through a new offer or launch within a dealership, and offering incentives to engage and learn more, can help strengthen the bond with potential customers.
Capitalise on opportunities to up-sell
Customers will often share positive experiences or their love for particular brands and models on social media.
Engaging with these posts – for example through arranging an appointment with a dealership, or offering a test drive – is an easy way to boost the chances of purchase.
Boost retention through effective complaint management
The customer journey doesn’t end with purchase – engagement and support after a sale is crucial to maintain loyalty.
This is particularly true of complaints, where a negative experience risks permanent damage to a customer relationship.
Speed is of the essence here – customers expect any query made via social media to be answered within 30 minutes, but SocialBakers research show the average for the automotive industry is 12 hours for Twitter, and 48 hours for Facebook.
Drive proactive engagement to build a community of advocates
Social networks are a community – and this is an opportunity that automotive brands should capitalise on.
Through sharing interesting stories and engaging with fans, it’s possible to build a network of advocates to amplify positive messaging.
Maximising impact through at 360-degree view
Social media is most effective when used as part of a suite of customer service tools, and plays a key role in forming a ‘360-degree view of the customer’.
This enables dealerships to provide the highest quality customer experience through bespoke, personalised communications, developed through capturing data from across every customer touchpoint across every channel and interaction.
Hosting social media channels as part of a centralised customer services platform, underpinned by artificial intelligence (AI), allows brands and dealerships to build a holistic profile of customers with details from buying history to vehicle preferences, and even details such as family size.
AI can then be used to generate ‘next best actions’, recommendations aligned to objectives on how best to serve customers.
This in turn helps to inform social media interactions, allowing them to proactively tailor the customer journey through positive and productive dialogue, and make it simple for buyers to switch from one channel to another with no drop in service quality.
The automotive industry is continuously challenged to demonstrate added value in order to boost sales.
Effective use of social media channels is a simple means of enhancing the customer experience through consistent, personalised customer service, nurturing the purchasing journey by boosting loyalty, and building relationships that endure for the long-term.
Our approach to social media customer service and the key steps for ensuring success are detailed in our recent whitepaper, along with an in-depth case study of the work we have delivered for a French multinational automobile manufacturer.
Author: Parham Saebi, customer service solutions director at Arvato CRM Solutions UK