By the end of the year, 80 percent of companies plan to use social media for customer service. On the consumer side, 62 percent of customers have already used social media for customer service issues. Gartner predicts one billion users will be on social networks by the end of 2012.
The social landscape is evolving, but one thing remains certain: Your ability to serve your customers, in the channels they wish to be served in, is critical to your business's success. But social customer service isn't a cute tool to be used by opportunistic marketing departments to big up the brand; it is an essential method of communication that needs to become part of a clearly defined organizational model.
Consider Current and Potential Customers
The post-sales experience brings both acquisition and retention power. It is critical to keep current customers happy and show potential customers how well you do business.
To be effective the social customer service model needs to be as organic and flexible as the medium that created it, while simultaneously delivering tangible results for the business through a stronger brand identity, better customer service and a long-term strategic plan.
But problems still exist. A study by A.T. Kearney found that, of the top 50 brands, 56 percent did not respond to a single customer comment on their Facebook Page in 2011. Brands ignored 71 percent of customer's complaints on Twitter. And, 55 percent of consumers expect a response the same day to an online complaint, while only 29 percent receive one. Your customer service strategy must include social media and be part of your long-term business plan to maintain competitive advantage.
The New Customer Service Tool
Debbie Curtis-Magley, public relations manager at UPS and Viktor van der Wijk, director of acquisition at KLM deliver two standout presentations on how you can better leverage social media for customer service. Based on these presentations, here are three tips for how to best use social media as a customer service tool.
Integrate social media into your existing customer service function. Gone are the days when social media sat by itself at the table; now you have to allow social media to influence all business functions to become a more responsive customer-centric business tool.
Create a voice your audience can relate to. Create humanized response models to engender loyalty and build relationships. Many companies are guilty of creating robust and well-planned strategies for social media customer service delivery, but not following through with this critical step.
Be proactive. Monitor social interaction to spot issues and solve problems before they become crises. Social media customer service delivery involves dealing with criticism and complaints in public, often in front of an audience of millions. If you're going to prevent a small problem from growing into something worse, you need to have a detailed understanding of what you need to respond to, a path to response and escalation policies for resolution.