Has Social Media Transformed Customer Service?

Lauren Krause
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According to Statistic Brain, social media is the new way that people meet and socialize. The statistics firm reports that as of 2014, there were 1.4 billion Facebook users worldwide and 645,750,000 active Twitter users. Since these sites and others are changing customer service in unforeseen ways, companies need social media strategies to keep pace with the cutting edge.

In the old days, consumers wrote letters to companies or placed phone calls to lodge a complaint. The process was cumbersome, and the only people with whom they could share their disapproval were friends and family. Those days are gone. With social media, people communicate in real time, which puts the customer in charge.

In an interview with Forbes, marketing strategist David Meerman Scott says in the days before social media:

- It was difficult for customers to research companies and products and find independent product reviews.- There was no public forum for them to voice disapproval of products or services.- They could not communicate instantly with companies.- They had no influence on the products or services companies offered.

Social media is changing customer service.

Not only do customers voice complaints over multiple social media channels, but they also expect companies to respond to them quickly. The article “New Rules for Social Media Customer Service” states that 72 percent of consumers expect a response to their posted complaints within one hour. Yet, a 2011 study by Maritz and Evolve24 discovered that 70 percent of companies ignored complaints posted on Twitter. The need for social media strategies is obvious.

Keeping Customers Happy With Social Media Strategies

Jason Fell, managing editor of Entrepreneur, says that if companies fail to monitor complaints on social media networks, they could lose a ton of current and potential customers. In the article “4 Quick Tips for Using Social Media for Customer Service,” he gives some tips for how to retain customers using social media strategies.

- Create a separate customer service account. If you only have a main page for your company or product, customer complaints or requests could easily get lost in your page’s regular feed.- Respond in kind. If a customer complains on social media, answer him or her on that site. Making the customer wait for a phone call or a letter does not resolve the issue quickly and may result in more negative public remarks.- Keep customers in the loop. If there is a crisis, such as your site going offline, be sure to post regular status updates. Otherwise, social media channels could be filled with negative comments about your company.- Train all your employees in social media strategies. During a crisis or particularly heavy customer service period, you may need to ask other employees to help out with social media duties. How well they perform can impact your company.

Despite the hazards of instant communication, social media is not a bad thing. It can help as much as hurt your company. To reap the benefits, make sure that you teach your staff social media strategies so that they can respond promptly and appropriately to any customer questions or complaints posted electronically.


Photo courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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