Would you leave a telephone ringing?
Anyone looking to convince their company of the importance of social customer service can point to a growing library of case studies. Whether it is how O2 has used social media to turn a customer service negative into a positive or on the flipside how Australian retailer Gasp failed to engage with a disgruntled customer, there are more and more stories that can be used to justify the necessary investment in training, processes and technology.
But for those that are still struggling to understand how vital social media is to customer service, the best approach is to compare it to other channels. Customers expect you to answer the phone, respond to their email or be helpful in a shop or branch – and the same is true about social media. In fact, Gartner is now predicting that by 2014 customers will expect the same level of response through social media as via traditional channels. Essentially ignoring a tweet is as harmful as letting the phone ring unanswered or not responding to an email.
This should be a wake-up call to businesses given that overall customer service is still lacking in many organisations. After all, our 2011 Eptica UK Multichannel Customer Service Study found that response rates to basic customer queries via email and the web was distinctly average. Businesses could only answer 50% of half of questions asked via their websites, with only 48% responding successfully to emails. This average performance did mask a real chasm between best and worst – while some companies answered 70% of queries, others only managed 30%.
So what’s the solution, particularly when social customer service can look daunting from the outside? Gartner sees three stages for companies:
- Firstly, participate and make sure you’ve got a presence on social media
- Secondly, don’t treat every social media interaction in the same way – some will require more detailed responses, others a simple tweet
- Thirdly, plan for the future and make sure you have the ability to physically cope with increased social customer service and put in place the processes and training to ensure it is an integral part of your customer service strategy
With some Facebook pages receiving more daily visits than company websites it is clear that whatever happens in social media, it isn’t going away. So invest the time in beginning the social customer service journey now – done well it will improve customer loyalty and positively impact your bottom line.