Social Media – A Sustainable Platform For Customer Service?

Published March 6, 2017
Last Updated July 20, 2018
Tom Whitehouse

Content and PR Account Manager

We’ve all been there… Impatiently waiting on the end of a phone line listening to one of the two following things;

  • A lifeless automated system explaining lengthy connection options, or
  • Irritating stock ‘hold music’

Neither are an effective means of customer service, but neither were avoidable. That is, until Social Media arrived.

Although this isn’t necessarily breaking news, it is now becoming normality that part of a company’s customer service department can be found online. Social Media Manager is now a common job title – which has not always been the case.

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media avenues (mainly Twitter) for customer service motives. They choose to share reviews, pose questions and provide feedback on the brands making an impact in their lives – for good or bad.

 

So, why are consumers flocking to social media for customer service?

Well, the fact that most people are never more than an arm’s reach away from devices – connected to a host of social media platforms is partly the reason. However, there is also the fact that brands have become responsive to this surge of activity.

These interactions are providing companies with a chance to learn more about their consumers so they can better tailor their services to consumers’ needs – whilst looking reputable in the process. This is surely a major reason why brand accounts offering customer service can be found on the likes of Twitter and it’s social counterparts. Notice that the brands quickly responding to their consumers’ queries are the ones successfully nurturing brand loyal consumers.

Certain brands have become particularly good at their online customer service, surpassing the expectations of their customers.

 

Check out some of the best Twitter examples below:

Tesco – One of the best examples of quick, helpful and reliable online customer service.

Nike – A mixture of consumer enquiries and inspiring replies sourced from customer feedback.

Virgin Trains – Prompt responses and train line updates split between East Coast & West Coast.

The message is clear, be ready and resourced to respond quickly (albeit sometimes with a charismatic angle).

But this poses the question…

 

Does it put pressure on brands?

The short answer, yes. It’s documented that most customers registering a complaint via social media expect a response within an hour. When complaints are left longer it leaves customers dissatisfied and therefore poses the possibility of creating a void between consumer and brand.

Practicing brands (predominantly within B2C markets) are essentially forced to go one step further than listening due to complaints/questions being aired out in a public view. This means brands are no longer given an option of responding as anything left unanswered leaves viewers questioning if the brand has an answer. Additionally, responses must be carefully forged as they too are transparent. This is suddenly putting a fair amount of pressure amongst brands with an online presence.

There’s a clear problem for brands then, especially large enterprises that have a huge volume of consumers. A brand that attracts a high amount of activity on their social timeline will need to spend a large amount of time and resources on responding. It’s these large brands in particular that now need whole social media teams to deal with ‘round the clock requests’.

 

So, is social media a sustainable platform for customer service?

There’s no denying that social media applies a lot of pressure on brands but it’s essentially a faster and more resourceful option. It’s also key to mention that it’s less of a call centre approach as there is an element of human touch to each response as a brand can show its personality.

From a technological perspective, brands should be looking to keep up with these increasingly tech-savvy, social generations. Furthermore, trust is an important aspect for these generations and the transparency that social media platforms such as Twitter offer is why this offering is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Whilst it may not be time to throw away the other in-house customer service options, it’s likely that social media customer service will continue to flourish and will open doors for even more brands soon.

 

If you need any help with your social media presence, then feel free to get in contact with us here. Or you can drop us a line on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn!



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