The importance of social media in customer service

Written by Monique Jansen Buljan & Partners Consulting

In today’s heavily competitive marketplace, it is essential that a company pursue multiple channels through which to evaluate and measure customer awareness and satisfaction of a product or service.

If a company is unable to fulfill the needs of a client upon first contact, the client is likely to take their business elsewhere.

In the whitepaper “Five Years of Social Customer Care”, edited by Guy Stephens, the authors posit that to ensure good service “part of social media, is to train your customers to choose for themselves”.

The amount of information available on the Internet allows consumers to self-advocate when doing business with a company. This increased accessibility of services not only benefits the client, but also the service-minded business model.

If you’ve ever worked in customer service, you know that the reward of helping people is immediate, and can be used as a key driver in encouraging employees to engage with clients.

A successful social media approach to customer engagement entails learning about the implications of a social media presence in your company, while defining strategies that will increase the supply of services to clients and help improve the client’s general knowledge about the sector.

The emergence of social networks

Social media should not be seen only as a means to collect and analyze information, but also as a means of providing customer service and building solid relationships.

Richard Baker, one of the co-authors of this paper believes that “customer service using social media should be run by people who truly understand customer service”. This means hiring professionals who are also familiar with the traditional role of the company in servicing clients. Recruiting the right staff is key to facilitating the creation of this strong relationship.

What has changed then, now that social networking has become a major part of modern culture? Above all, it is the company’s ability to communicate the value of its commitment to its customers through multiple channels.

We must foster conversations that enhance and encourage participation by both employees and clients on how to improve the customer experience. After all, the customer has not changed, rather the means through which they communicate has. And it is possible to apply the same rules as we deal with people.

Today we can analyze tweets, posts or reactions; find influential people, track, categorize and link posts so that we get a relationship between product and business results.

However, despite the versatility of social media, there is still reluctance to use it as a tool to promote customer service, and engage with employees and clients. But it is not to be outdone, the customer calls us to use social networks and you have to adapt.

Evolution in online communication

Online communities existed long before social networks appeared, while the way of organizing information about the customer relationship has been included in the CRM 3.0 systems.

Twitter and Facebook have opened new public forums through which consumers can recount their experiences and vent their emotions. Less obviously they can also serve as aids to access demographic information about a specific clientele.

The rapid expansion of social networking channels and their ever-increasing integration into day-to-day life will require that contact centers adapted to using websites, email and chat as a part of their usual service channels.

The key to true success in customer service is to look beyond automation and remember that social media is the ultimate end in customer care.

Customer Centricity and social networks

In Buljan & Partners Consulting, we start from the premise that social networks are not only full of meaning and very relevant to the customer, but also a critical part of a balanced strategy to maintain client/business communicate through whatever means necessary.

It is very important to facilitate a customer’s use of multiple channels while ensuring professionalism. The client does not allow failure, you only get one chance to make a first impression, if you tarnish a customer’s perception of a company the results are far-reaching and detrimental.

As in the case of traditional customer service channels, the involvement of people who understand the needs of the cliental as well as the product is key.

This means that employees who deals with social networks are able recognize when to pass a comment to a specialist. That there are internal processes that enable prompt response and understanding: it is always the customer who chooses which channel through which to communicate. And of course, you have a CRM system that collects all information.

Finally I would like to stress, as I previously stated in another post on managing partners*, it is crucial that your partners in the process of customer service will match.

In using social media, customer service has greatly changed the landscape of our work, although not entirely in substance: Customer Centric strategy has to be the basis of everything.

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