Our B2B customers’ expectations for personalized service, real-time communication, and information at their fingertips is shaped by their online experience as consumers. With the increasing time the average person spends on digital media – close to 6 hours a day – we, as good marketers all added “social” to our modern marketing strategy. Now amidst rising customer expectations and so many companies clamoring to be heard, how do we know when customers are ready to engage with us? How do we connect with them in helpful and meaningful ways? How do we stand out from the digital clutter?
At Microsoft US, we gathered our social engagement programs into one center of excellence: The Customer Experience Center (CXC). This enables us to more deeply understand our B2B customers, across all their touchpoints, which is key to breaking through the noise. Technology helps us listen to dozens of social channels and millions of impressions. It surfaces conversations we need to participate in and top-of-mind themes we must have a point of view on. Our community managers and creative teams are then able to engage on topics our customers are interested in and insert themselves in dialog where they can be of most help, and in impactful ways.
Here are some of our key learnings:
- It starts with listening. Social is not just another broadcast channel. It is an insight-rich conversation that can inform the company narrative, marketing priorities, PR messaging, and even engineering and product teams. At Microsoft US, the CXC uses social listening to 1) gain insight into industry-specific challenges, competition news, go-to-market innovation, etc. that allow us to constantly refine our strategies and content, and 2) understand the public pulse around topics and “territories” where we want to have a voice for our company, for example, diversity and inclusion, digital transformation and customer experience, just to name a few.
- Your customer is the hero. Thanks to social engagement, we can connect with customers in a very personalized dialogue, while at the same time impacting the perception of many more on social networks. Our CXC community managers use social listening to identify opportunities aligned with Microsoft’s brand personality & core narratives to start conversations we can amplify. And when our customers start to tell their own stories of their engagement with Microsoft, they become a fantastically authentic megaphone for our brand identity.
- Go the extra mile to get the right content to the right customers at the right time. We’ve all invested a lot of time and money in setting up social programs and digital destinations, but it doesn’t stop here. Organic posting of content on social reaches about 2% of a channel’s follower base (Source: Curatti, Sep 4, 2018). At Microsoft US, we add paid social to get the right information in front of the right audience at the right time. We also built a cross-platform social strategy with more traditional communication channels like email for a true 360-degree approach.
- The right technology is key to success. As true modern marketers, we must able to scale our engagement while also mining for relevant data insights to constantly improve our approach. Our social engagement platform allows us to track and monitor the number of impressions as well as the sentiment around the engagements we’re driving; we then continuously tune the customer experience to better serve customers along their buyer’s journey. For social listening and engagement, we use Sprinklr, a platform that utilizes Microsoft Azure Machine Learning to identify customer and competitor intelligence on social, as well as to engage with our customers in real-time conversation. We also use Microsoft 365 to drive cross-team communication and collaboration efforts among the many groups represented at the CXC.
As I shared in my previous blogs – 3 ways culture guides modern marketing at Microsoft US and Modern Marketing: The Case of Microsoft US– investing in a culture that embraces change is more critical than ever to ensure we leverage the ever-changing social landscape to the benefit of our brands and our customers — and this is just one element of the mix.
Now it’s your turn. How is your organization is leveraging social to contribute to the customer experience?
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