By michaelpace on August 8, 2012
We are living in a visual world, and I am visual girl (ummm guy). Even back then Madonna knew the importance of how visual we are as human beings. Whether it was provocative videos, suggestive stage acts, or pointy cone-shaped bras, she understands the impact of using “visual aids” to draw in an audience. Twenty to thirty years later, social networks and our lives are flooded with the use of visual tools to grab share of audience attention. Pinterest, Instagram, and SocialCam have acquired multi-millions of users, and bigger players like Facebook and Google have made significant enhancements to make photo and pictures front and center of their applications. LinkedIn purchased Slideshare for $119M. If we know that visuals (images) are enticing and important to our customers, how can customer service leverage the power of visuals to provide proactive service?
Disclaimer: I do not condone the use of picking arbitrary tools (social networks or any tool), and basing a strategy around the tools. Your strategy is based on your objectives; if the tool helps you deliver your objectives/goals than use it correctly. In your “regular life”, you do not buy a miter saw, and then decide what you are going to build around your house with it. You have a project, and select the appropriate tool to accomplish your task (it’s the same with social media tools).
Let’s work backwards from the customer (like we should for every initiative).
How do your customers find answers to questions, concerns, how-to’s, and issues?
- On your branded site or community
- Connected social networks
On your branded site or community
Most customers will go directly to your site to find answers to immediate issues, learn how to use your products better, learn more about your products and service, find peer opinion, and of course browse or shop. For all that is holy and sacred in the customer service world, make it easy for you customers to get help. Don’t bury your service access with a tiny link at the bottom of a page. Remember prospects like to know help is available and often have “how to” questions before they buy. Once there, remember pictures can be worth a thousand words. Use images to link to your most popular questions answered in your knowledge base. Use slideshows to walk customers through longer step by step processes, better yet, link them to your branded Slideshare site (create virtuous cycles). Create short videos (no more than 2 min.) introducing new products or enhancements to your service. Remember to use the thumbnails and short descriptions to attract customers to click. If you are selling physical products, provide lots of images from different angles (Zappos & Amazon do extremely well here). Vague text descriptions just invite calls, emails and chats to your center.
On your branded community site, supply content with images, slideshows, and videos. Better yet, invite your advocates and super-users to provide content using images. Ask them for help, and to include screen shots and tutorials if they are technically inclined.
More and more customers are using search engines to find information and answers about your company, especially via mobile. They are not going directly to your site, where you control the message. They are relying on top search results to learn more. If your branded content is not at the top 1/3 of the page, customers will rarely select your link. If you thought Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just for your Marketing Department to worry about, you are dead wrong. If you don’t understand SEO, find someone in your organization that does, and spend an hour learning how it impacts your business. All the tools we have mentioned and many more get indexed by Google and Yahoo. The more content and viewed content associate with a brand gets “pushed” up higher in search results. By creating content (whether your own or from your branded community) you give search engines more results associated with your brand. Online slideshows, tutorials, videos, pictures (tagged), community posts, and knowledge base articles all add to your content indexing.
Connected Social Networks
If you or other departments have established social tools connected to your customers, create sections for customer service, education, or tag as customer support related. I think this is a place where customer service leaders can influence to have service boards created on a brand’s Pinterest site. Pinterest allows you to link images or thumbnails to a variety of content, whether it be blogs (with images), slideshows, tutorials, knowledge base articles (with images), and videos. Again, Pinterest is indexed by search engines, and beloved by millions of users for its use of images to tell you quickly what content lies within. Leverage your other social networks (again creating virtuous cycles) to let people know about your customer service board. Sites like Slideshare can be effectively used in a similar fashion. More visual tools are on their way, early practice on sites like Pinterest and Slideshare may pay big dividends in the future.
Sites like Pinterest, Slideshare, and others are rapidly gaining users because people can quickly view an image and know what the content is about in seconds. Make it easier for your customers get service answers quickly; images, videos and slides will help support your customer access strategy. Ok, this Papa will stop preaching. Express Yourself and don’t be Like a Virgin. Experiment with the tools, but don’t cross the Borderline, and maybe your customers will be Crazy For you and Cherish your service.
Are you using visual tools for customer service?
What other visual tools have you witnessed being effective?
Open Your Heart to Me with comments.