Social media has exploded in popularity over the past decade. Businesses should take advantage of these online social platforms for a variety of purposes.
Sure, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are excellent platforms to advertise products yet savvy business owners/managers are using them for customer service purposes as well.
Before we dig into the role of social media in customer service, let’s take a look at a few important statistics regarding the meteoric rise of social media’s popularity. According to a 2005 Pew Research study, only 8 percent of adults in the United States used social networking platforms. Within four years, this number leaped to an incredible 47 percent. Today, about 75 percent of adults use social media. Social media use by businesses parallels these trends. In 2009, about one quarter of small businesses had established social media accounts. According to LinkedIn, 90 percent of small to medium sized businesses now use social media or plan on establishing social media accounts in the near future.
Nowadays, plenty of customers will head straight to a company’s social media accounts to ask a question, issue a complaint or make a comment about its products or services. As of today, 67 percent of customers have used a business’s social media page for servicing. About 33 percent of customers prefer to reach out through social media than traditional methods of contact. Businesses cannot afford to neglect these posts.
Customers demand timely responses to their questions and concerns, regardless of where the realm in which these matters are presented. If customers fail to receive a timely and appropriate response when reaching through the company’s social media, they might sever ties. The bottom line is that if you do not pay attention to what your customers post to your social media accounts, you run the risk of losing their business.
Angry customers used to write nasty letters and make vitriolic phone calls to companies. Today, a good portion of dissatisfied customers are turning to social media to air their complaints. According to Accenture, 66 percent of customers across the globe stopped patronizing a business in 2013 as a result of poor customer service. An in-depth look at consumer behavior shows that 40 percent of those who turn to social media to complain about a business expect a response within an hour of issuing the complaint. An astonishing 32 percent anticipate a response within 30 minutes.
Though it might not be possible to appease each and every complainer in a short time frame, it is possible to address their concerns in due time. Do not neglect this opportunity to “right wrongs”. Rely on your social media manager to monitor your accounts for complaints and questions. If your organization issues timely responses to online complaints, you just might be able to convert angry customers into loyal ones. Furthermore, directly addressing social media complaints in a publicly visible manner will show onlookers that your company really does care about its customers.
Imagine a scenario in which hundreds or thousands of customers flock to your company’s social media accounts to ask questions or issue complaints and receive absolutely no feedback. Though it is hard to believe, this is a reality for some businesses. These companies are making a grave mistake by failing to use social media as a customer service channel. Every business owner and manager should ensure that his staff treats customer responses on social media in the same manner as customer phone calls and letters. Sure, it is much easier to use a mobile device to issue a complaint on Facebook or Twitter yet this does not make those sentiments any less meaningful than if they were presented by way of a phone call, e-mail or handwritten letter.
The truth is that the success of a business is based on how it treats its customers. According to the Customers 2020 Report, customer experience will be the most important factor to consumers by the year 2020. This is precisely why nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed in 2013 planned on drastically ramping up their customer service spending efforts in 2014. Businesses should view social media interactions with customers as a means of developing a rapport, enhancing the brand and building a loyal customer base.
As web-enabled mobile devices grow in popularity, social media will continue to flourish. This means more and more people will use companies’ social media accounts to make inquiries and issue complaints. Organizations that fail to adapt to this overarching social change will undoubtedly suffer negative commercial consequences.