Why customer service matters in the digital and social media world
By Dave Harrison, Head of Business Development at Customer Service Excellence
Organisations all over the world, large or small, use social media as an outlet to contact and communicate with their customers. It has been said that it is quicker to gain a response about a query from a business through Twitter than it is via the old fashioned methods of telephone or email. Recent research shows that 31% of consumers will take to social media to vent about poor customer service rather than speak directly to the company on the phone or face-to-face. More than ever before, organisations have to be on top of their social media in order to provide an effective customer service platform.
The feedback that organisations receive from social media can be a valuable tool in helping develop products or services. The main advantage of social media is the fact that it isn’t a one-way street. Successful customer service online demonstrates a company’s position within the market, their willingness to listen and learn from the customer ultimately improving the brand. A recent study showed that 87.3% of UK consumers read online reviews before making a purchase.
As a platform, social media is incredibly quick which means people can voice their opinions almost immediately and freely about a business informing potentially millions of people. This for any business or organisation can be incredibly dangerous. A tweet or comment is instant and can spread within seconds, before a company or business know it, their brand image and reputation can be tainted. If a customer service problem is handled badly over social media, it is then made a very public problem with the help of media highlighting the issue to the rest of the world.
Phineas T. Barnum once said ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’; he had never known the world of social media.
However, it is essential to remember that not all customer service platforms are related to complaints. Current customers of a company, who are effectively being free promoters giving the product or service a ‘massive thumbs’ up want to be heard as well. Free marketing and positive promotion, who would turn that down? As most organisations are aware of, satisfied customers are valuable to any business for a number of reasons. On the other hand, when an organisation deals with their customer service enquiries in a positive way, their reputation is immediately improved.
Although the digital era is an exciting and cost effective platform for businesses to expand, it can still lead to problems for organisations. Every customer can have the advantage of the internet at their disposal, which results in companies needing to be more clued up in social media situations.
In order for your organisation to be a successful in customer service they need to be aware what makes customers irritated and what makes customers satisfied. To achieve this, businesses should try to gather more feedback from customers. The most cost effective and easy way to do this is through social media itself. This enables an interaction between organisations and their customers who feel like they are being heard and can give detailed opinions.
There are many other advantages of using social media as a customer service tool such as increasing web traffic. If a company provides fantastic content through their blogs, Twitter or Facebook the company name will become more known and popular. This will dramatically increase the level of traffic to the company’s website or blog resulting in a wider audience and winning new customers. Recent reports have stated that businesses with 300 to 1,000 followers on Twitter are getting five times more site visits than those with fewer than 25. Additionally, 40% of UK small and medium enterprises have been using social media to market their businesses, which has improved their web traffic and overall presence.
Reports have also stated that UK companies that have successfully gained new customers through social networking rose to 41% in 2011, 8% up from the previous year’s figure. Globally the figure has seen a 7% rise for the same period.
Social media is constantly growing in numbers and popularity, it only takes one minute to miss a tweet or comment and the reputation of your company is at risk. Using social media as a platform for customer service nowadays is vital. Remember, word travels fast!
Customer Service Excellence is a scheme set up and trade marked by the Cabinet Office and is now operated under license by G4S Assessment Services, Centre for Assessment, emqc, and SGS UK.