“Your call is important to us, please continue to hold.” 30 minutes later, now conscious of your phone bill at the end of the month and fists clenched you are put through to a customer service agent only to be told you’ve come through to the wrong department.
This is an all too familiar scenario for many across the world trying to get assistance or vent their frustration with a product/service which just isn’t doing what it is supposed to do. There is good news however, for those of you with high blood pressure, social media is becoming the fastest and most direct way to get your consumer issues heard by the right people. 30% of big brands now have customer service on Twitter. For those angry consumers this allows them a short cut to the decision makers and people responsible for the image of the company. There is a sense of customer empowerment in this switch away from traditional customers as they know they are airing their grievances on a public platform and the response they receive will be seen money.
For companies utilizing social media for customer service purposes, inaction is not an option. If they get it right, not only will customers continue to buy from them (and buy more and more often) they’ll become advocates for their brand. More than this, they’ll achieve this while actually spending less on service and support.
While Twitter has been making huge in-roads into social customer service for many years the big player within social customer service is still Facebook. The importance of Facebook cannot be underestimated. A whopping 80% of US social media users preferred to contact brands through Facebook. The billion user behemoth is still the undisputed king in terms of social media customer service.
At Social2B we looked at customer service on Twitter in 2011. Two years down the line and what changes can be seen in this evolving sector within social media?
24/7 customer service: Admittedly this is not something that all brands can manage as it requires a large commitment but it’s something that for multinational companies, such as airlines who operate services 24 hours will need to be considered.
Faster Response rates: As the number of social media users increase and the speed of a brand’s response can be seen by millions, fast responses are perhaps the most challenging feature of social customer service. On Facebook for example, SocialBakers this year found that of the major brands surveyed, response times had increased 143% year on year! Businesses are definitely sitting up and taking notice of the importance of social media customer support.
Greater Engagement Levels– The switch to social media customer service is now in full flow with 85% more questions being asked to brands on Facebook in the SocialBakers survey than were asked in 2012. Customers have really bought into the notion of social customer service and this number is set to increase throughout this year.
Multi-Channel Customer Care– Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are amongst some of the channels being used by companies for customer support.
New Developments in Social Media Post Tracking: Earshot has recently unveiled a social media consumer relationship management tool that allows social media departments to observe Facebook posts, Instagram pictures or tweets in the nearby area that are about their brand. It all sounds very CIA but this development should assist brands in responding to customers while they are using their goods or services. Imagine being in Macy’s and tweeting about it only for Macy’s to then tweet you back with current promotions and recommendations! Expect more developments online CRM.
Companies have long since realized that social media is an integral part to their marketing activities. Now more than ever it can be said that customer service is truly going social.
By Sam Shedden