By Sarah Rolfing
Social media is continuing to grow as a customer service channel, but is unlike any of its predecessors.
Social is special.
Unlike other customer service channels, social media is both a one-to-one and many-to-many interaction. Customers are seeing how and when enterprises respond to social customers' posts, and if they do at all. Customer preference is also increasingly shifting in favor of social media with 33% of consumers preferring to contact a company on social media than by telephone (Ambassador).
Social is special in the way that it can have a much greater impact on brand image than other customer service channels, and thus, customer opinions. In addition to brand image, stronger brand-customer relationships can be facilitated through social media. Social media is a place where enterprises have an opportunity to engage and create meaningful relationships with customers. This makes social a crucial channel for enterprises to offer customer care - it's where customers are already asking to engage, and its where brands have the most to gain or lose by deciding to engage back, or not.
Doing it right, or making it worse.
There are a handful of social brands out there that are getting social customer service right. They understand that 42% of consumers complaining in social media expect a response in under 60 minutes (Edison Research) and 86% have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience (ClickSoftware).
Customers have certain expectations when it comes to customer service, and when expectations are met or exceeded, their expectations grow even higher. Many social customers have tasted the fruit of the stellar social media customer service tree, and now, to those customers, if certain brands are not even offering social customer service, their fruit is rotten.
Doing it right has its rewards.
Because social media customer service has not yet been widely adopted, it has become an opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves. Brands should always be seeking out ways to differentiate from competitors, and customer experience should rank as a top priority. When customers were asked what the key drivers are for a customer to spend more with a company, 40% said improvement in the overall customer experience (Oracle). Additionally, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience (Forbes).
Not only are most customers willing to pay more for a better experience, but customers who engage effectively with companies over social media spend an average of 30% more money with those companies than other customers who were not engaged in social media (Bain & Company).
The customer experience has a tremendous impact on buying decisions, and what Ambassador has found is that 70% of individuals helped via social customer service return as a customer in the future, showing that social media customer service keeps customers coming back.
Engaged customers develop connections with brands, which lead to loyalty and ultimately more spending. Social media is not a channel to be ignored. It is an opportunity for brands to deliver a better customer experience all while creating customer relationships, loyalty, and improving the bottom line.
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