The Case for Social Media Customer Support
By Seth Price
About Inbound Marketing
Social care, social customer service, social customer support…whatever you call it, it’s becoming more and more important for your business.
Providing stellar customer support has always been an integral part of managing any successful business. After all, we all want our customers to be happy, we all want them to be loyal, and we all want them to tell their friends, family, and coworkers about their amazing experience. And while phone calls and emails once sufficed for providing customer support, the rise of social media has necessitated that you evolve your customer support strategy.
As we highlighted in an earlier post, 27 percent of time spent online is now spent on social networks. There are 1.1 billion active users on Facebook, 550 million active users on Twitter, and millions more on other social media sites. As a result, more and more consumers are turning to social media in order to ask questions, report issues, and voice concerns.
Is it really a big surprise that customers are abandoning traditional support channels in favor of social support channels? Think about it: How many times have you called a customer support line only to be put on hold for what seems like an eternity? With social media, customers don’t have to “wait until the next support rep becomes available.” Instead, they can simply type their comment, click a button, and wait for the company to respond.
While email was once considered a more modern customer support channel, social media has proven itself more popular for several reasons. For one, when a customer sends an email, they might worry that their email will never get read — that it will just pile up in the company’s inbox. With social media, on the other hand, “support tickets” are created instantaneously (in the form Facebook Timeline comments, tweets, etc.). What’s more, these “tickets” are public, which means everyone can see when a company does (or doesn’t) respond. This puts even more of an onus on companies to respond promptly, as they risk tarnishing their reputations.
The important takeaway here is that you need to serve your customers in the channels they want to be served in. The rise of social media has empowered consumers. Instead of simply being a voice on the end of a phone line or an email address in an inbox, consumers on social media are more humanized: they have names, they have faces, they have friends and family, interests and hobbies — all for you to see. Don’t ignore these people! Find them, listen to them, and engage with them.
Of course, we’re not saying that you should abandon phone and email. (You definitely shouldn’t!) In most cases, you won’t be able to fully troubleshoot an issue or explain a solution via social: you’ll need to move it to a phone call or an email to provide more insight. However, having front-line support across a variety of channels — including social — will only help. In fact, according to Forbes, businesses that set up multiple support channels receive higher satisfaction ratings than those who provide only email or phone support.
Pros & Cons
The benefits of providing customer support via social media far outweigh the disadvantages. Those disadvantages mainly pertain to your time and resources: you need to be monitoring social channels regularly, and you need to be able to take the time to respond to folks in an appropriate manner.
At the end of the day, using social media for customer support can help increase customer satisfaction (how happy customers are with your business), brand loyalty (how likely it is that customers will stay with your business), and customer advocacy (how likely it is that customers will promote your business). As an added benefit, social customer support has been shown to actually save businesses money on customer support costs. According to McKinsey & Company, a recent study showed that 35% of companies experienced a 10% reduction in support costs after implementing a social media support strategy.
Are you leveraging social media as a customer support channel? Do you have any social customer support tips or tricks you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!
Published on September 6, 2013
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.