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IRUK 500 WEBINAR OVERVIEW Social media and retail: living in a world of extreme expectations

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In the first of a series of webinars that have come out of our ongoing IRUK 500 research, Fabrice Etienne, EMEA marketing director at Lithium , and Barbara Fischer, director, social strategy at Lithium, were joined by Martin Shaw of Internet Retailing’s research team for a webinar on Social media and retail: living in a world of extreme expectations. Here’s a brief summary of the webinar.

Fabrice Etienne, EMEA marketing director at Lithium, opened the webinar with an account of how digital and social media are changing the way we live and trade

• Winter 2013: storms left parts of the UK without electricity over Christmas, including Fabrice Etienne’s own home. He decided to engage differently – over Twitter, with faster results than by attempting to get through to the call centre.

• How digital is changing the way we do business: Uber in the taxi world; Amazon in retail/ecommerce and many more in other industries. “Customers now expect to get their delivery the next day and for free. They expect to get personalised service when they are logged in.” Raises expectations when dealing with other sectors.

• Social media as a shared experience.

• Over-delivering on expectations: CX = delivery – expectations

Living in a world of extreme expectations

Three key challenges for businesses:

People trust others than they trust brands

14% trust advertising, but 82% trust peer-to-peer recommendations, and are solving it for themselves (66% go to the call centre as a last resort, 74% go online).

Brands are not investing the right way

They’re spending $60bn on advertising, $300bn on call centres and $500bn on advertising. Struggling to deliver, with 74% reporting they have a digital strategy but only 33% saying their approach is correct.

Example: British Airways and social media backlash on customer service.

Example: NYPD asking for Twitter feedback and having pictures of police violence posted.

Example: JP Morgan: backlash on Q&A session led them to cancel the programme.

How can we use digital to set up the team for attack?

Digital customer experience: how to connect (social response), engage (branded communities), understand (analytics/Klout)

“A different conversation needs to happen within a company”

Proposed framework for change:

Changing customer behaviour

Telling the brand story, measuring customer expectations

What can fans/advocates do?

From feedback to creating content

Example: how Sephora uses a community and blog

Return on investment

Examples: Barclaycard: super users and engaged community members have lower levels of late or missed payments.

Virgin Atlantic: customers referred from the blog have 27% larger baskets than those who were not.

Managing change

Handling change is difficult, but not changing is fatal. Build a strong case to convince of visionary approaches.

Next move: engage differently

Barbara Fischer, EMEA social strategy director at Lithium, was the second speaker in the webinar, and she presented a case study on Migros.

• Migros is Switzerland’s largest retailer with turnover of 26bn Swiss francs. Founded in 1925, it’s known for innovation.

• Migipedia community, launched in 2010 and has evolved over time. By 2014 had 60,000 members, and in 2013 had 1m unique visitors.

• When only 14% of consumers trust advertising, peer-to-peer communication such as this is a clear trend, said Fischer. Customers can apply to become product testers, and give feedback to polls on product preferences.

• Three key areas of engagement: tell us what you think, get information, take part in the community.

8 More than 50 crowdsourced products through the community include Mojito toothpaste and vanilla Coca Cola.

Q&A session

Barbara Fischer and Fabrice Etienne of Lithium were joined by Martin Shaw, senior researcher at Internet Retailing.

They discussed questions around:

• How difficult is it for traditional retailers to make that shift into the social mindset of ’engaging differently’?

• What sort of staffing requirements should retailers be thinking about? – is this something that requires a whole new call centre-like operation or something that can be automated – or something between the two?

• In a post-omnichannel world, what’s the primary issue for retailers to approach when they embrace social media as part of the mix?

• Social media is emerging as a potential new channel to win customers; how should retailers think about their strategies for this?

For more information about the webinar, or to listen to it at your own convenience, seeing the slides and hearing the Q&A session, click here to visit the IRUK 500/Lithium webinar page.

The Brand and Engagement Dimension Report, part of the IRUK 500 series, is available at

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