Customers are going more and more online, and are becoming increasingly demanding. They choose when and where to ask questions, talk about issues and share complaints, blurring the line between Marketing and Customer Service.
Social technologies have a way of blurring traditional (and I would add artificial) lines. Is the customer finally in charge?
Many brands have already accepted that customers turn to social networks for service and support, and they are listening and responding. Here's a list of top customer service accounts on Twitter from two years ago.
Customer service via social
A study from NM Incite (you'll need to fill out a form to download) explains why customers turn to social for service and support.
Actually, the report doesn't truly get into why except to summarize recent data from surveying a representative group of 2000 U.S. social media users over the age of 18 using Nielsen’s online panel.
It found that:
- the majority of Twitter and Facebook users, 83% and 71% respectively, expect a response from a brand within the same day of posting
- Facebook and Twitter and the major social networks where customers expect a response on customer service issues
- use of social customer service is consistently high across gender, income and education levels
- positive experiences equate to a higher rate of customer recommendations, which is why customer conversations on Twitter are good brand management
Why do customers turn to social?
Because they're already there, they're likely not getting an answer or even a live person by phone, cannot find your customer support email address, or you don't have a support chat enabled on your site and they need an answer right now for something that is happening this very moment.
And, the top reason why they use a public forum like Twitter (most public) and Facebook (less so) is that instead of a conversation, they got a brush off and they're left with either a problem to figure out how to fix, or no answers.
Rethink your approach if you find your brand is on the receiving end of those messages.
Twitter is ideal for customer service because:
- You can respond to a customer question or complaint immediately after seeing it without needing to have all the facts -- take the problem solving part off line. Monitoring and responding is lightening fast, and right now it will cast you in a good light, especially if your normal customer service channels are in need of repair.
- You can be proactive and let your customers know where to find you -- I started a list linked above, let me know if you'd like me to add your company's team to it. This will ease some anxiety over which number to call or being on hold. Provided you don't take two days to get back to them as I described here.
- You provide the added bonus of good service/product stewardship, which in turns creates a nice halo for your company and brands. Let's face it, Twitter is the most social of social networks. People have the opportunity to humanize the brand experience over time by being helpful and personal. I do wonder if companies are developing Twitter scripts?
Your customer service in social should be fair, not special. Your team should be integrated across the spectrum of communication tools your company uses.
[charts courtesy of NM Incite]
[lightly edited from archives]
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.