Social customer service is no longer a fad – it’s a necessity


In some organizations, the idea of merging social media and customer service doesn’t sit too well. You may wonder why this is. The task of social media is typically owned by one part of an organization and usually falls within one of two camps: marketing or public relations. At the end of the day, businesses are trying to sell something to the consumer, but the silo battle makes solving consumer questions more challenging.

I’m happy to see the tides changing on this trend. Although the change is slower than many would like, things are moving. Part of this movement comes from one thing that is the Great Equalizer — data.

Socialbakers recently conducted a customer service study that revealed an interesting comparison: While 30% of consumers posting customer-service questions on Twitter received a response, a higher percentage of users received replies on Facebook. There is a tremendous opportunity for brands to add resources to their Twitter customer service while ensuring their Facebook response times are accurate and timely.

Other studies show that consumers expect an answer to their Twitter question within an hour. Not 24 hours, but 1 hour. Imagine a time when you’ve been in a crunch, and you’ll understand their urgency:

∑      Shopping at a store

∑      An appliance mishap

∑      Question about sizing/inventory while shopping online

Personally, I do expect an answer to a question sooner than later, and I try to use all social channels for a brand to see if someone on their internal/external teams will respond.

For those of you who think consumers prefer talking on the phone, think again. 30% of you prefer social media platforms for customer service, over using the phone.

I know how stressful it is to find enough people to take on customer-care needs. The beauty of today’s interwebs is that you can efficiently supplement your current internal teams with outsourcing. Forrester’s Ian Jacobs conducted a studying on outsourcing call centers to tackle this very business challenge. I applaud Jacobs for referencing the omnichannel consumer:

“Outsourcers have followed two trends with keen interest. Firstly, the growth of self-service means that calls that actually do hit contact centers tend to be more complex — the easier issues having been solved in the self-service channels. The second trend: the rise of the omnichannel consumer has left many companies scrambling to build out robust service organizations to handle chat interactions, social customer service, email response, and even SMS-based service.”

With the busy holiday season around the corner, this is the time to take a hard look at your structure and determine whether you have enough staff to handle the random consumer questions that come your way. If you sit in marketing or PR, do you have a solid way to direct customer-service questions to the right people? If you don’t, I suggest organizing this system now before you’re in the throes of Q4 holiday conversations.

Blagica Bottigliero
VP of Digital Media