When you hear the word “engagement” what comes to mind nowadays? “Engagement” is no longer synonymous with marriage proposals. Engagement is now becoming synonymous with the phrase “online engagement”, meaning the methods and best practices of successful online interaction and communication with others.
Posting on social media is simply not enough. You have to engage back to your customer in order to see the proper return and reciprocation with your social media efforts.
Now, let's talk about customer service; customer service has been taken to the online world and in full force. It seems when a customer, or even yourself, has a complaint about a company your first reaction is to immediately post your frustrations online. Typically, people will also include a hashtag for the company or the company’s Facebook handle while posting a complaint. The level of detail in accrediting the company happens mainly because you want your voice to be heard and seen by the company, not to mention be seen by all your friends, followers, and entire network.
However, bad feedback is not the only feedback consumers boast about online. You've probably seen people express their love for a company or brand on social media. They scream it loud and proud, with hashtags and mentions all aflutter, as they want everyone in their network to know the amazing experience they just had with that company.
So my question to you is: What's the difference between customer service and engagement? Sometimes I even get confused and speculate their differences. When you see brands responding with their customers do you consider that engagement? Or is that all in the efforts of customer service? Small brands might not have the workforce or budget to employ a customer service team. These response efforts then start to fall under marketing or social media’s responsibility by default. This undermining practice then starts muddying the waters of defining the line of engagement and customer service.
Let’s examine how most big brands walk the line and approach customer service versus engagement:
Here are great examples from Target and Walmart. This gives great perspective on how they approach customer service and engagement.
You notice this post has TONS of comments and lots of shares; this is the epitome of engagement. If you click to the post you will also notice Walmart is very active in the conversation and engaging back by commenting to selected posts with their users.
Target has devoted a separate Twitter handle to cover all customer service related inquiries. They also post that handle on their main Twitter account so customers know where to tag them.
This next tweet is a great example of customer service by Target. Target posted a holiday promotion image and a customer asked where to find the item. @AskTarget then replied back, (not Target) and answered the customer.
Benefits of Real-Time Marketing
The fact of the matter is the social sphere is evolving. Customers are now expecting “real-time” marketing responses from brands big and small. eMarketer just released their Key Digital Trends for 2014 report. Within this whitepaper, the excerpt below really blew me away as it came as a timely parallel to this very same blog topic of customer service versus engagement:
“The rapid emergence of the everywhere, always-connected consumer places new demands on marketers. Specifically, it raises expectations about the speed with which marketers need to respond to expressions of interest across the customer journey, from the consideration phase all the way through to post-sales service. Gone are the days of 24- or 48-hour response times. Consumers expect instant interactions, whether it is a relevant offer or an answer to a customer service query, and the ability for same-day delivery of items purchased through digital channels.” - Via eMarketer- KEY DIGITAL TRENDS FOR 2014
In addition, these graphs also showcase the definition of real-time marketing. This first chart, via e-Marketer, gives great examples of the types of approaches big brands are doing to engage and deal with customers online.
This second graph highlights “the proof is in the pudding” and the true benefits of what immediate engagement or “real-time” marketing efforts has on a company.
How is your company managing engagement versus online customer service? How do you differentiate your approach on the two? Are they one in the same for your company, or do you separate your efforts?
Michelle Bergstein-Fontanez - Marketing Maven and Social Media Specialist at Event Industry Marketing by BeatCreative
Michelle lives, eats and breathes marketing for the event and meeting industries. Known as the "Event Marketing Maven" and a consummate social media/ online marketing enthusiast. Her innate ability lies in helping companies create an online presence through smart and engaging marketing strategy. Her company's client portfolio includes many influential event planners, suppliers, and small businesses in Central Florida and beyond. With an intensive 10 + year background in advertising, marketing and communications, she brings innovative design and savvy marketing approach to all her client projects. As a national speaker and educator on social media for event businesses and at events, Michelle is passionate about lending her expertise in contributing to international blogs, renown local and national publications. She has been featured in Fast Company, Crains New York Business, Special Event Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly, and BizBash.