Businesses are missing out on social media opportunities say Siemens

UK companies could be missing out on new ways to interact with customers and employees because of their reluctance to follow US consumers’ rapid uptake of social media according to new global comparative studies on the Web 2.0 media in business and customer communications.

As well as slower acceptance of social media, a UK study suggests clear differences in how consumers and business use social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook. A study of 1500 UK consumers by Siemens Enterprise Communications showed that a clear majority (over 60%) use social media and nearly one in three (30%) want to interact with businesses via social media.

A separate study of 1000 office workers in the UK by Siemens Enterprise Communications showed that 30% don’t participate in social networking in the work place or aren’t aware of their company’s participation in social networking activity. More surprisingly, over 60% of businesses in the UK still don’t have a formal social networking policy in place.

The results contrast with social media’s greater popularity amongst US consumers and business users, revealed by research from analyst firm Yankee Group commissioned by Siemens Enterprise Communications. It, found that in the US, the clear majority of employees and consumers would prefer to use social networking for business communications, for example to share product ideas, have the option to chat in real time with company experts and review sites for comments.

The US study showed average customer satisfaction with current business interactions via social media currently stands at 65%. However, one third of the country’s businesses still have no formal social networking policies, do not allow the use of social media at work, or aren’t aware of their company’s participation in social networking.

Siemens says that overlooking social networking tools for business communications means lost opportunities to drive customer collaboration and employee productivity. The study findings showed that integrating social media capabilities is a quick, simple and cost-effective way to improve customer experience and employee effectiveness.

Stephanie Watson, General Manager of UK based analyst firm MZA Ltd commented “We are surprised by the findings since technologies such as mobile communications and social media were primarily driven by consumer needs, the reluctance of companies to adopt or put effective policies in place is a missed opportunity to conduct business, improve customer care and retention or simply keep workforce informed and engaged.”

Jessica Reading, Head of Marketing, LateRooms.com commented that “In today’s socially connected world, management of your reputation in the online space should be of equal importance, if not more, to the time spent managing your reputation offline. For an online business like LateRooms.com with a high degree of interactivity and price sensitivity, social media offers a variety of instant communication channels through tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media has allowed us to communicate directly with potential brand ambassadors, gain feedback from our customers and as well as reach new customers through extended networks. It’s incredibly positive to see that 62 % of the UK market is active online and open to brand engagement through social media and this is definitely something that should be utilised, so long as it’s well managed and maintained, and you have something that will add value to users. LateRooms.com has already seen huge value in these channels having only really been interacting within this space for the last three months.”

Selected US Study Highlights:

Seventy percent of consumers want access to company experts and support via social media channels and trust company information provided to them via their social networks

Nearly 60 percent of customers feel company outreach via social media would improve their loyalty to that company

Most customers feel that companies should be monitoring social media for customer feedback

Fifty percent of respondents use social media daily or several times a day

Nearly 70 percent of employees feel they need better tools to track and manage social media for business, and would like the ability to initiate a Web conference automatically from a chat discussion at work, inviting people from within their social and work networks

“Social media is changing the way businesses, customers and employees interact, and this creates significant opportunities for contact centers and the enterprise as a whole to leverage the integration of these tools into business processes,” said Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president of enterprise research at Yankee Group. “As integration of social media improves within the contact center and with unified communications and collaboration, businesses can improve customer interactions and positively impact employee productivity and collaboration.”

To help customers integrate social media into their communications strategies, Siemens Enterprise Communications now provides OpenScape Fusion Social Media Integrations. These new, customer-driven, integration service solutions enable companies to tightly weave both public and corporate social media tools into enterprise customer contact centers and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions. The integration of social media and UCC into contact center operations can improve average call time, first contact resolution rates and customer loyalty.

“The intersection of social media with enterprise UCC is inevitable and growing rapidly in impact,” said Chris Hummel, chief marketing officer at Siemens Enterprise Communications. “Our research shows customer intimacy and access can be greatly enhanced, and enterprise users can improve productivity and collaboration, by leveraging social media in the business communications mix. With the OpenScape Fusion Social Media Integrations, our customers can easily harness the power of social media to improve customer relationships and employee productivity.”

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