Facebook – ten years of social customer service
This month, Facebook is ten years old and has celebrated its birthday by hitting 1.23 billion active users and delivering 2013 revenues of $7.87 billion. While it was no means the first social network (and won’t be the last) it has radically changed not just how people interact with each other, but more importantly how they engage with brands, particularly when it comes to customer service.
Before social media, customers essentially communicated with companies through one-to-one channels such as the telephone or email. Networks such as Facebook changed all that – feedback is instant, public and visible to the entire world. Compared to word of mouth, posts and status updates reach a much wider audience, and are also much more powerful as they are endorsed by someone that you know and are connected to. Feedback can have a positive as well as negative effect – 71% of consumers who’ve had a good social-media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others
So social networks have delivered not just a new channel, but have rewritten the rules for how consumers expect and want to be treated. They are demanding faster, more comprehensive answers to their queries, 24x7, on their channel of choice. Additionally, the speed and immediacy of social networks has raised expectations on other channels. People are no longer willing to endure lengthy waits for email responses – they want them delivered much faster. After all, if a Tweet can be answered in 10 minutes, why can’t other channels respond as quickly?
The past decade has consequently seen a major evolution of how organisations deal with social customer service, mirroring the rise of Facebook itself. The vast majority (71%) have now implemented social customer service in some form. Companies tend to pass through four stages:
- Discovery - often by accident, companies find that their customers are talking about them on social media, and realise that they need to engage.
- Toe in the water – individuals within the organisation respond to customers, often in an ad hoc manner, without any strategy or control.
- Marketing control – an official presence is set up on Facebook, often controlled by marketing. However this can mean that customer service posts or queries are being answered by non-specialist staff, who can give inconsistent answers compared to other customer service channels.
- Integration – marketing and customer service work together and Facebook is run by a joint team that use their different, complementary skills to benefit the customer. Queries on Facebook are automatically identified and the channel is integrated into the overall customer service infrastructure, delivering an efficient, consistent and fast response.
Facebook has come a long way in ten years, and it is fair to say that not every company has yet reached the integration stage of social customer service. However as more and more queries arrive through Facebook, a silo-based approach simply cannot scale to deliver the service that today’s customers demand. As Facebook usage continues to grow, now is the time to take a step forward with social customer service in order to deliver the best possible experience to consumers and increase engagement on the network.