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More and more firms are using social media to improve their relationships with customers, with adoption of social networks for customer support up by 15% (to 51%) since last year.
Findings from Econsultancy's 2011 Customer Engagement Report, produced in association with cScape, suggest that, with greater adoption of social channels for customer service and product development, companies are losing their fear of social media.
Companies are also increasingly using social technology internally to improve communication and business performance, with a third of companies (32%) using internal social networking for employee communication.
The benefits of customer engagement strategies
The number of company respondents who regard customer engagement as “essential” has decreased from 55% last year to 50% this year, though agency results are slightly different with the proportion (who say their clients regard it as essential) increasing from 55% last year to 57% this year.
Investment in customer engagement seems to be paying off for companies, with almost three-quarters of client-side respondents (74%) saying that their engagement strategy has been either “very successful” (9%) or “quite successful” (65%).
In addition, the proportion of companies that have not been very successful in this respect has declined by 4% on last year's survey.
How successful has your organisation's customer engagement strategy been in the last 12 months?
Use of social media for customer engagement
Almost half (48%) of internet marketers believe that their company's presence on social networks has resulted in a tangible and measurable improvement to customer engagement.
More than half of client-side respondents (58%) say they anticipate their investment in social networks for customer engagement to increase this year, and significantly more companies than last year say they plan more spending on user-generated content (up 13%), and on-site branded communities/forums (up 9%).
Use of social media for customer service
The results of the survey, carried out in Q4 last year, show that companies are really seeing the benefits of social media as a customer service channel which allows companies to handle complaints, questions and deliver real-time information.
More than half of the companies surveyed (51%) are now using social networks as a way of improving customer support, 15% more than in last year's survey.
Companies are also planning further investment in social channels, with 54% of company respondents and 69% of agency respondents saying they (or their clients) were planning further investment in social media as a customer service channel.
Where does your organisation plan to invest to improve customer service?