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Five Reasons Why Customers Want Social Customer Service

Joshua March
By Joshua March on Sep 4, 2012 3:34:00 PM

The number of consumers bringing their customer service issues to social media is rapidly rising. But why do customers prefer this method, and what are they looking to get out of it?

Everyone aims to be in tune with their customers, but following them around the web isn’t enough. To really deliver a great customer experience, it’s important to understand why people go social, and make sure expectations are met. Today, more than ever before, we are now choosing social networks above and beyond traditional channels to reach the companies we buy from. In fact, the number of British people who have interacted with companies through social media has nearly doubled in eight months.  Here are five reasons why social does it for the consumer.

  1. Social is empowering. On social media, everything is public and can be seen by just about anyone who has Internet access. Complaints, particularly unanswered ones, can ward off other consumers, and those taking their problems online know that. But it’s not just spite - social media is empowering for the consumer, and puts them in a position where their voice matters. Hopefully, companies understand that and the customer will receive a much more expedient (and invested) response.
  2. Social works where all else fails. Many customers will turn to social media when the customer service teams on other channels have failed them. When issues don’t get solved through call centers or emails, customers get more frustrated, and they turn to social media to try and get an effective response. We saw this happen a few months ago when Sky’s Twitter team were able to deliver service that their call centers failed to provide. The good example of a few sets the standard for others to follow.
  3. Social is convenient. The popularity of smartphones has helped to keep everyone connected to their Facebook and Twitter accounts at all times. This provides a convenience that cannot be matched by other channels. Research also shows that 20% of customers who tweet about an experience with a brand, whether it be positive or negative, do so from inside the store. Furthermore, using social media doesn’t cost the customer a penny – unlike many call centers.
  4. Social is real-time. The way we interact on social media has changed our ideas about customer service. Twitter and Facebook are, of course, fast-moving channels. When customers write to a company on social media, they are expecting a quick response. On Twitter, 30% of customers expect an answer within 30 minutes, and 29% expect a Facebook response in under 2 hours. When companies force customers to use email services to get their questions answered, it could take days before they get a response.
  5. Social is social. When you set up a Facebook or Twitter presence, you create a community. The members’ of that community have thoughts and ideas of their own, which they want to share with each other. Many customers turn to social media in hope that other customers will see their messages and agree – especially when it’s a negative experience. We’ve recently seen a rise in the number of Facebook complaints that are going viral. This is important to remember when attempting damage control – you could be speaking to your entire community, or just a small subsection, but it’s never a one-on-one conversation. Your customers want the support of their peers – visibility isn’t just a by-product, it’s the point.

Why do you think customers turn to social media for customer service? Are there any other reasons than the ones we’ve listed here? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

Topics: Customer Service

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