Are brands finally getting the message about social customer service?
Despite the fact that millions of people now regularly use social media, many brands have been slow to embrace it as a customer service channel. But now there are signs that some companies may be starting to get the message about the importance of social customer service.
According to a new survey, around 80 per cent of consumers who have contacted a brand through social media received a response within 12 hours - comparing favourably with response rates from other channels. However the poll by of 2000 people by eDigitalResearch reveals consumers may not yet have realised the improvement that companies are making in this area: only two per cent said they had recently used their Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts to get in touch with a brand.
The findings indicate that things have moved on since the 2012 Eptica Social Customer Service Study which surveyed 2,000 consumers across the UK and France. In that research we found that four out of five consumers (81%) didn’t get an acceptable answer to their questions asked on social media - with many companies ignoring simple questions as well as complaints.
If brands are getting the message, then there are a variety of benefits according to IT industry analyst Ovum in its paper ‘Social Media as a Customer Support Channel: Best Practices’. This paper highlights improved customer satisfaction as the key benefit of implementing a social customer service strategy. But it also pointed to a number of wider benefits:
1)Improved customer advocacy - as brand’s customers can share their positive service experiences with other customers on social media;
2) Call deflection - as customers are able resolve enquiries on social media rather than having to call the contact centre;
3) Prevention of brand damage - having a customer service presence on social channels can help companies to address issues quickly and clarify inaccurate or confused information before negative feedback goes viral.
Social media is of course just one of the ways that customers will want to access customer service today. So it’s important to integrate social customer service into your multichannel strategy, rather than operating it as a separate ‘add-on’. It is essential to underpin all channels with the same customer service knowledgebase so that customers receive consistent information and answers whether they use social media, web chat, mobile customer service apps or phone or email the contact centre.