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“Refusing to Communicate by Social Media Will Be as Harmful to Companies as Ignoring Phone Calls or Emails Is Today”

August 2, 2012

Yesterday Gartner Group put it all on the line in a press release with the same title as this post.   We couldn’t agree more with Gartner’s bold prediction that ignoring social-media based customer/prospect inquires will soon be at our own peril and a LaunchPad start-up project is hard at work with as solution you can learn more about below.  From Gartner:

As familiarity with social media grows, customers’ expectations about how organizations will use these channels are evolving, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2014, organizations that refuse to communicate with customers by social media will face the same level of wrath from customers as those that ignore today’s basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls. For organizations that use social media to promote their products, responding to inquiries via social media channels will be the new minimum level of response expected.

 “The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15 percent increase in churn rate for existing customers,” said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “It’s crucial that organizations implement approaches to handling social media now. The effort involved in addressing social media commentary is not good cause to ignore relevant comments or solvable issues.”

An increasing number of forward-thinking companies large and small are recognizing that Social Media Engagement is not just in the realm of marketing.   True engagement of the type described above clearly involves proactive customer service.  As a result, many companies are taking the steps necessary to integrate the Marketing, Sales and Customer Service function within a Social CRM technology platform that facilitates social media outreach (Content Marketing), lead nurturing and closing (Sales) and Social Customer Service (Customer Service).

Turning to the recently published work of another respected analyst firm,  Forrester, Social CRM has never been more important.  According to Forrester, we have entered into the Age of the Customer, described well by the graphic below.   Given the power customers now have to make their sentiments known, (both positive and negative) via the social media fishbowl, it’s imperative that companies take the Gartner warning to heart.

Our LaunchPad-incubated startup- Virtualyty- is now coming to market with a  Social Customer Service (SCS) Solution  designed to be a part of an integrated Social CRM system.  We believe customers want and expect honesty and access to answers in ways that were unusual a few years ago.  This includes access to answers on when on Facebook, Twitter and/or Linked IN.

Virtualyty’s  SCS Solution is a social media plug-in that enables access to a lifelike personal concierge that’s able to answer most any question as fans browse company Facebook pages.  The solution  also supports  Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.   In Facebook, a thumbnail of the avatar is displayed with a text message to indicate they can ask a question. Upon clicking the thumbnail, the Virtualyty client is displayed with a welcome message from the avatar and the option to question the avatar directly or to send an email, to browse the user forums or to look through FAQ’s. The system can be configured to allow the avatars to handle all dialogues, or a live chat operator can intercept some of the questions and liaise directly with your customer.

Click here to see it in action at our customer V1Vodka’s Facebook page. (pictured below).  And click here if you would like to learn more!

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