Measuring social return on investment

It is now accepted that great customer experience delivered through social media is achievable, but what about return on investment, asks Julian Johns, vice president, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at Conversocial


Customers are being effectively supported and looked after on social channels. They use social media to reach out to your company and are asking the same questions that you would get via phone, e-mail and chat. We are at a stage where customer service over social media has become an established business operation need. Tweet at a brand and most will respond to you.

Even if many companies are not yet delivering the level of social customer service that consumers expect, they know they have to and they are working towards it. Forrester Consulting reports that 67 per cent of companies believe improving social customer service is their most pressing issue for the next 12 months.

This is a natural digital service progression as customer service changes with customer behaviour. Your customer service team are already delivering online engagement; however, now it will include not only private, one-to-one channels, but also very public, one-to-many channels.

This change in consumer behaviour requires organisations to rethink their customer service strategy. This includes showing where return on investment (ROI) can be made and ROI on social customer service can only be shown if companies use the right delivery platform.

For example, team managers must be able to benchmark social customer service as efficiently as possible and demonstrate value alongside other service channels. Despite this, 2014 Forrester research shows that 20 per cent of companies do not measure the success of their social customer service operation at all.

Customer service metrics for voice, chat and e-mail are measured in response to volume of inbound, percentage response rate in a given time, first response time, sentiment and average handling time, among others. These must be available in a social customer service platform as well or you won’t be able to feed operation-boosting data, such as “it takes ten minutes to resolve an issue via e-mail and five minutes to resolve an issue on social”, back to the rest of your organisation.

Besides return on investment gained from increased productivity, there are two other benefits – reduction in customer churn and cost to serve

Besides ROI gained from increased productivity, there are two other ROI benefits – reduction in customer churn and in cost to serve.

Failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 per cent increase in the churn rate for existing customers, according to Gartner in 2012. Research by NM Incite in 2012 showed that social costs less than $1 per interaction, compared to $6 per call for phone and $2.50 to $5 per e-mail.

Enthusiasts will tell you that social media is cheaper, faster and offers a better customer experience than traditional channels. Many brands are well on their way – and we at Conversocial are proud to have helped them measure the need for a social customer service operation, guided them to a point where they could deliver it and then enabled them to scale it up as desired.

The public nature of social media means that each successful interaction has the potential to be amplified into a peer-to-peer recommendation, delivering benefits that are significantly greater than other channels. Research from NM Incite also found that consumers who encounter positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend a brand than those who do not.

In short, a well-planned, resourced and executed social customer service strategy, where metrics for ROI are identified, will allow brands to deliver what the customer really wants – a great service experience where, without jumping through hoops, customers are helped quickly by a knowledgeable agent who fixes their problem.