The following guest post is by Amy Callahan, the cofounder and COO of Collective Bias, a social shopper media company that connects social media influencers to the brands they use daily.
It was not so long ago “social media” was the buzz phrase. Today it’s all about “content”– and content strategies and content marketing. In fact, a recent study showed 68% of CMOs have content at the top of their goals going into 2014, and for many, that content will be focused on women who control over $20 trillion in world-wide spending.
Women have greedily adapted technology and social because it puts content at our fingertips and helps us solve problems, helps us make informed decisions and often find what we need within minutes. Studies show that 78% of women in the U.S. use the Internet for product information before making a purchase and 92% pass along information about deals or finds to others. For many women shopping is a sport. Armed with her smartphone or tablet and the right content, women can go from zero to 60 along their buying journey.
Through social media and the right content, brands now have the ability to collaborate, build trust, inspire loyalty and provide relevant information that impact sales. It’s not always about quantity of content, but more importantly the quality of the content.
So how does content fulfill her customer service need?
Women want it all: great products from a trusted company that stand behind its products and services and is also backed with great customer service while being simultaneously conscious of the world they live in. They want value, not necessarily the cheapest price. Providing that content gives context that aids in her purchase decision. Serving it up in a manner that makes it easier, faster and enjoyable is in essence customer service.
Women like the backstory about the brands they buy.
Women are curious. They like to know about the products they buy and what the company stands for. Where did the idea come from? How are they made? Is it made from recycled products? What is the company’s policy on sustainability? These stories provide texture to a brand and build trust with her. TOMS Shoes, for example, has given 10 million pairs of shoes to children in need since 2006, and have since extended their effort to eyewear, restoring sight for over 150,000 people in 10 countries. It is stories like this women love to retell. The story makes the brand authentic and human. And when a brand is believed and trusted, it makes the customer service representative’s job much easier. L’Oreal, for example, launched Makeup.com, which connects with their female audience by sharing relevant content that feels organic, while subtly weaving their brands and products into these stories. In fact, it takes some digging to even know that the site is part of the L’Oreal Group.
For women the devil is in the details.
Today there are many different platforms with different audience appeal and for many women it’s going to be all about multi-channel experiences. Brands need content strategies that understand how she is digesting content across channels. What does she need to make a decision? For women, the attention is in the details and those details create value. Those details also show that the brand takes pride in its product and can provide the transparency she requires from a brand. She also reacts to content that is both pragmatic and connects on an emotional level. For mothers, content that shows how the purchase will be good for the entire family helps with the decision process as she makes decisions based on the whole. A well-designed interface, which brings the information she needs all together in one place, is a critical part of customer service. It shows that the brand understands her and her full plate. For women it is often about helping her get there faster, at the right price and smarter. Lowe’s nailed it with their “Fix in Six” Vine campaign, giving these time-starved women 6-second Vine videos for clever DIY home improvements. The social buzz around the campaign was bigger than expected and Lowe’s became a Vine sensation overnight.
Content gives her a glimpse into the potential relationship with a brand.
Real-time price information is critical. Showrooming could be circumvented if brands can deliver the right content into her hands with easy access to competitive research regardless of the platform or where she is located. Sephora’s mobile app is a great example of a brand that understands women. It showcases in-store experiences and includes QR codes and product reviews. It’s a great balance of information, tips, deals and inspiration. The right content gives her a glimpse of what the relationship with the brand will be like. Sephora has built customer service into the app and women will share and talk about brands that show attention and responsiveness to their needs.
Content is today’s virtual shopping assistant.
The female shopper will often pay more for products that save her time. Women use their mobile phones as virtual shopping assistants and it often replaces the in-store assistant today. While reviews are just a small part of the content spectrum, they have been shown to increase purchase intent by 186%. Frequently asked questions that are regularly updated and reflective of her peers’ inquiries can help remove barriers to purchase. Store maps may seem like a no-brainer but for women it’s often the little things that make all the difference. For today’s hurried female shopper they can be a lifesaver. One app that is providing shoppers with these benefits is Aisle411. The app provides shoppers with in-store navigation, unique experiences, promotional messaging and special deals, which can all be customized according to her in-store location.
The future of customer service is providing content that is customer-centric.
Content is transforming our idea of “customer service” into more than fixing customer complaints and answering questions. It’s information delivered how, when and where she wants it. For women, content is the next generation of customer service.