How Social Media Transformed Customer Service [Data]

5 Ways Social Media Supports Customer Service

Social media has transformed customer service from a faceless voice at the end of your 800 number to the people who make your firm real by engaging with consumers, in real time, where they are, namely social media, showing them you care. (Here are 100 ways to show your customers you care!) Frank Eliason, who’s now at Citibank, was Comcast Cares’ poster child for social media delivered customer service.

There remains a disconnect between how companies and consumers view customer service delivered via social media platforms. To put this in context, SEOmoz’s November 2010 SEO Industry Survey found that less than 3% of organizations use social media for customer service.

eMarketer Study

Yet, by contrast, almost one out of two consumers go to businesses’ online sites to solve their problems and get more information about products, based on Cone Inc.’s 2010 Consumer New Media Study conducted by ORC in October 2010.

Cone Inc. Study

How social media changes customer service’s 5 main functions

What does it take to integrate social media into your customer service activities? Here’s how five of the traditional customer service functions have evolved with the use of social media.

  1. Answer customer questions. It’s simple: Provide answers to shoppers’ questions so they can decide if the product will do what they want. Roughly seven out of ten customers have questions about products. Social media benefits for customer service: Supplies product related information in a variety of formats including blogs, online videos, photographs, ratings, reviews and forums (including Facebook where customers can answer each other.)
  2. Clarify promotions. When customers are confused by the specifics of your offers, customer service can quickly help and close sales. Social media benefit for customer service: One of the main reasons that customers follow companies on social media is to get special offers and deals. You can expand promotion distribution reach and clarify the offer at the same time. Use a wide variety of social media platforms to accomplish this such as Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.
  3. Upsell customer additional or related products. Well-trained service representatives can effectively increase order size by qualifying customer needs. Social media benefit for customer service: Through demonstrations and explanations, prospects and customers can visualize how to use your products.  To this end, blogs, photos and videos are helpful. Adding links to appropriate merchandise can facilitate additional sales. Also, discussion boards and other customer forums can also provide insights on how to use your products. To entice customers to buy more, offer special deals to users of these sites. Additionally social commerce can expand your reach and enable customers to purchase on social media sites.
  4. Provide business alerts. Distribute the message about store closings or other service related factors such as delays and gate changes for airlines. Social media benefit for customer service: Use of social media platforms facilitates the reach and speed of your message. This can be very useful especially in the case of a natural issue such as a winter snowstorm.
  5. Facilitate product return. While not optimal for your company, you can make it easy and cost effective for your company and your consumer to return products. Social media benefit: While most retailers try to hide returns functionality. Zappos has shown that facilitating returns helps win over customers.

The reality is that prospects and customers will use any and every channel to your company to talk to a human and to get direct answers to their questions before and after they buy. Remember if you don’t do it on social media platforms, they’ll try other options, namely their social network and your competitors.

Is there anything else that you’d add to this list of how social media supports customer service? If so, please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related articles about customer service and social media:

Photo credit: BetsyWeber via Flickr

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  • http://www.3birdsmarketing.com Hannah Watts (Interactive Marketing Intern)

    Heidi – thank you for this great article! Transparency is so important when it comes to keeping customers happy. Customers respect a company that admits when it has messed up but is willing to do whatever it can to make up for the mistake. Social media has really revolutionized (and personalized!) the way we do customer service.

  • Lucy Welton

    Hi Heidi,
    Recently, I was looking for articles/ case studies that talk about rules for customer service and I came across this one that you wrote. Even though this post is a few months old I felt like it was timeless and great guidelines to keep in mind.

    It is important now more than ever to emphasize that social media is changing the face of customer service. It is now commonplace to tweet or post on a company Facebook wall when you have a good or bad experience with the company. Since social media is about sharing with the network and community, people tend to listen to the reviews that other people post. In order for a company to succeed, they must use social media to communicate with their customers.

    Recently iContact’s Sarah Stealey presented a webinar on the 4 Forces of Customer Service and she touches on social media and suggestions on how to incorporate it into your business. http://slidesha.re/o31tH8

    Thank you for consistently posting relevant and thoughtful content. I enjoy keeping up with your blog.

    Best,
    Lucy