Social media has permanently changed the way we all communicate. A key focus of this for businesses has been finding the best ways of utilising these tools, to make sure messages reach their targeted customer base effectively. However, is it just sales and marketing that businesses should be focusing on? What about the customer service implications that social media is having on brands?

How has social media changed customer service?
Previously, if a customer had a complaint, they may have written a letter. This would only have been seen by 1 or 2 people and a response may have taken a couple of weeks. With emails, customers expect a quicker response, but complaints are kept internal and probably seen by only a handful of people. With social media, a response is expected to be almost instant and both complaint and response will be seen by thousands or even millions of potential customers. Furthermore, customers are starting to understand the power of this medium and can put pressure on businesses to respond in a prompt but effective way.

Why is it so important that companies get it right?
Reports show that 62% of consumers have turned to social media to voice customer service issues. This will only grow in time and has always been the risk with these platforms. Instead of worrying though, businesses should embrace this statistic as an opportunity to showcase their customer service skills, whilst generating a positive outlook on their business. This should also help in retention and creation of the businesses customer base too!

Current Statistics
Worryingly, a study in 2011 looking at the top 50 brands, found that:

  • 56% did not respond to a single customer comment on their Facebook Page.
  • 71% of customer complaints were ignored on Twitter.
  • 55% of consumers expect a response the same day to their online complaint, whilst only 29% received one.

What should businesses do?
In order to be able to deal with the changes that social media has brought about, businesses need to create a structured customer service strategy with the right personnel and culture in place, to be able to rectify issues as soon as they arise, without damaging the brand and risking complaints escalating out of control.

Final thoughts…
I think that customer service should be a major focal point for companies over the next year or so, with it becoming critical to their brand and overall success. But what do you think? Do you think social media has changed the way companies deal with complaints, for the better? Plus, do you have any great examples of good/bad customer service via social media? Please leave your comments below!

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