Best of Both Worlds: How to Combine Traditional Customer Service with Social Media

customer-serviceTo many companies, social media appear as an attractive and trendy platform for customer service. Being constantly on social media allows them to quickly identify negative experiences that customers bring up while posting to their friends. Companies can voluntarily offer to address such problems and win points for being proactive. A social media presence also allows businesses to quickly respond to customer service requests and interact with customers in a personal way.

Can taking your customer service to social media possibly go wrong when it comes with all these benefits?

In many cases, customers don’t feel that they are served better by customer service departments on social media

Various market research studies report different customer service satisfaction numbers. In general, though, while 3 out of 4 social media customer service departments believe that they are able to offer better service than they used to using traditional methods, only about 1 in 10 customers agree. How do both parties to the same transaction see things so differently?

What social media customer service does better than traditional customer service

[tp lang=”en” only=”y”]Putting customer service departments on social media[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]Putting customer service departments on social media[/tp] can give businesses a direct line to their customers. It can also help them build and reinforce a positive image each time they do a good job attending to a problem. In some cases, being on the social networks also allows for some unusual kinds of service – such as when a restaurant accepts an order over Twitter for a romantic picnic lunch to be delivered to a park bench.

According to [tp lang=”en” only=”y”][/tp][tp not_in=”en”][/tp], a major marketing consultancy service, a number of reports show that entire industries are shifting their customer service departments to social media. Many social media experts believe that in the near future, customer service in many industries will be exclusively available on social media. The following statistics show how effective social media customer service is.

  • Four out of five customers contacting businesses over a social media platform get a reply in 12 hours (as opposed to one out of two requests over traditional channels taking more than 24 hours).
  • Three out of four airlines offer passengers full service over social media – making reservations, handling complaints, performing check-ins and so on.
  • One out of four people like to discuss their customer service problems on a social network.

Traditional customer service does better than social media in some areas, too

The novelty factor can account for part of the reason why social media customer service is considered better than traditional service. The preference for social media may come from the way many people are dissatisfied with the manner in which traditional customer service is run today, after years of cost cutting and outsourcing. Here are a few statistics that help prove how satisfying traditional customer service can be when it’s done correctly.

  • In one out of two cases where people need customer service, the issue they have requires several minutes’ worth of back and forth with an experienced customer representative.
  • One out of two consumers can only make a purchase decision when they have assistance from a representative.
  • When companies manage to earn the loyalty of a customer, three out of four times, it is through winning and friendly personal service.

Which way should your business head when it comes to providing customer service?

In many ways, social media customer service is cost-effective and quick. The fact that poor service on social media can earn a business a bad name acts as an incentive to perform well. If there is no way a business can afford a proper, traditional customer service desk with motivated employees, social media customer service can be an excellent alternative. As far as possible, though, businesses should try to deliver a high-quality traditional customer service experience.

Guest article written by: Eric Bryant has embraced social media to promote his small business. An avid blogger, you can find his helpful posts primarily on marketing, finance and business-oriented blogs.

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