The emergence of social media over the past decade has revolutionized the way businesses communicate and interact with their customers. And as enterprises have gradually discovered the general merits of a well-managed social media platform, as it relates to marketing and PR, many are attempting to tackle the broader challenge of applying it to customer service. In fact, 67% of contact center executives believe social media is a necessary customer service communication channel. Point in case, by the end of 2012 80% of companies planned to use social media for customer service initiatives. However, fast-forward to today, and the current number of customers seeking help through social media has dropped significantly (50% versus 40% in 2014), according to a recent American Express Survey.
What is Happening?
- An astounding 35% of consumers say they rarely or never receive an answer or have their complaint(s) resolved through social media.
- 56% of customer tweets to companies go ignored.
- 32% of respondents who have attempted to contact a company through social media for customer support expect a response within 30 minutes, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.
- 57% of consumers expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.
- According to a recent American Express survey, 48% of consumers prefer live assistance when seeking help, versus 3% who prefer social media.
The fact of the matter is most businesses already fail to deliver superior customer service through traditional means (i.e.: phone) much less social media. In fact, 40% of today’s consumers already request better human service. And while many enterprises assume the simple act of periodically engaging in social customer care can do nothing but help, it can actually expose them to a number of vulnerabilities as more customers see and treat social media as a go-to help source but fail to have expectations met. In fact, customers partaking in internet-based customer service are 4% more likely to share negative experiences and failure to respond via social channels can increase customer churn rates by 15%.
Which begs the question, is there a place for Social Media in the customer service arena?
Social media is certainly a powerful and essential tool every enterprise should take advantage of in some capacity. But while extremely useful, the fact of the matter is, most businesses have yet to know how to fully leverage it as it relates to customer service. In fact, 89% of businesses are still struggling to figure out how to engage their audience through social channels.
The primary attraction to social media is the public nature of the platform. Unlike other communication channels (phone, email, text, chat, video), interactions are made available to everyone to view, comment, and share with very little hope for privacy or control. And while such mediums can provide huge exposure, the ability to control the negative ones is where social media proves difficult. In fact, many companies will respond to complaints by requesting individuals contact them through alternative means – channels that allow for a proper interaction and also offline.
This is not to say customer inquiries and complaints through social channels should be ignored, but rather that businesses should be careful treating their social media profiles as service platforms. Today’s enterprises and contact centers should instead place a greater focus on improving those channels where customers are more actively seeking support (phone, email, online chat, etc.). And once that is achieved, social customer care can be revisited—but for now, let’s leave social media to the marketers and advertisers.