Businesses that streamline their management of social media and their responses to online reviews can significantly enhance customer experience
By Tijs van Santen, Chief Customer Officer, Uberall
As the world reopens, consumers and businesses alike are looking forward to a return to normality. Yet, guidelines and restrictions continue to evolve, with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan confirming that masks will remain mandatory on all TFL services for the foreseeable future. And high street giants like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waterstones are still asking customers to wear face coverings inside their shops.
At the same time, individual shop policies and regulations vary and can create confusion for customers, discouraging them from patronising local outlets. So how can brands improve customer satisfaction and keep people informed and engaged in this still-uncertain, post-COVID era?
Social media is one critical communication tool. Staying connected with customers through social media is an organic and personal way to improve local experiences with large brands — the primary way most large brands are experienced.
Lessons from the pandemic
Whilst e-commerce has surged throughout the pandemic, social media interactions with the local outlets of global brands have also increased. Recent Uberall research found significant growth in customer interactions online with traditional stores and other “offline” businesses.
In the UK, these online interactions – clicking on links to store directions, phone numbers or websites – increased 42% over the year from 2019 to 2020, and a whopping 465% from April (just after the first lockdown) to July 2020 (just after the UK’s first lockdown re-opening). With customers becoming more reliant on “always on” technology, we should expect to see digital interactions only continue to grow.
Businesses have become increasingly aware of these customer behaviors. Specialist care home provider, The Anchor Hanover Group is one such organisation to embrace the benefits of social media to support customers throughout the pandemic and beyond. Key to their success has been dedication to keeping a consistent brand image across over 100 local-social pages.
Over the course of the lockdown, Anchor Hanover provided reassurance to their residents’ loved ones that they were well, and that residents were receiving the same high standard of care as in less challenging times. Communicating with their residents’ families in multiple communities presented a challenge, but one that was easily accomplished using Facebook. Anchor Hanover created 114 different Facebook pages for their 114 care homes, each tailored to the specific local requirements and bulletins. The system was a success for Anchor Hanover, with an impressive 10.1 million Facebook impressions reached from January 2020 to October 2020 alone.
Some brands might be inclined to manage a single “corporate” presence on social media, but that fails to deliver the localised experience and personal touch that consumers increasingly demand. Anchor Hanover’s engagement data validate this local-social approach.
Social media to fit local needs
A brand’s physical outlets each has its own local character and requirements. By answering the needs of local consumers, while maintaining a consistent brand image, businesses can ensure they are meeting consumers where they are – and providing the best customer experience possible.
To avoid over-burdening your brand by monitoring and creating content for every social media platform, understand which sites are most used by your customers. Some platforms may also offer additional benefits, such as templates to support brand consistency when messaging is locally tailored. Regardless of the particular platform, brand participation in social media is now mandatory.
For a small business, maintaining a local touch on social media is relatively easy. But what about large, multi-location brands? Initially it may seem daunting to manage social media for every one of a brand’s local outlets – at times numbering in the tens and even hundreds – across key platforms, but technology tools make it possible and highly manageable.
Such solutions enable multi-location businesses to centrally control and post local content that is people-centric and engaging. These technology platforms empower brands and their local managers to interact with consumers directly and at scale, locally, regionally and globally.
Reviews and ratings
Digital teams equally need to stay on top of online reviews, which are a cornerstone of brand trust. Uberall research shows that 95% of consumers say online reviews influence their buying decisions, and, further, that businesses who are more responsive to customer reviews win more customers.
As you might expect, customer queries are usually best handled by agents on the ground who understand and can credibly address local issues. This can be done while maintaining brand guidelines and directly speaking to a specific local question, concern or problem.
As with social media management, big brands have access to technology solutions to streamline online review management. This permits a level of local authenticity and engagement, as if each outlet were a standalone store. Survey data show that people consider the local outlets of big brands to be part of the community. So when it comes to online reviews, a locally tailored approach is a must.
Keeping customer satisfaction front and centre through local social pages is not just about posting content; it’s about creating content that is relevant, authentic and relatable. If you’re looking to build engagement and connect with your online community across multiple locations, simply scheduling posts with “generic” messages will not be enough.
By staying consistently connected with local customers online, you create digital experiences that are more personal and relevant. With the help of technology, even the world’s biggest brands can maintain brand message consistency while tailoring specific responses to a local audience. In a post-pandemic world, it’s the local touch that will resonate and boost customer satisfaction.