The world of social media is continually changing, but one thing remains the same: customer service. Organizations that use social media in their marketing campaigns are increasingly looking at their interactions with customers on sites like Facebook and Twitter, to see how they can improve customer service. The effect this has on customer service can be seen in the number of companies who monitor social media for mentions of their product or company name.
Social media is continually changing, but one thing remains the same: customer service.
The rapid growth in the use of social media has made it increasingly important for companies to develop a strategy for dealing with customer service and communication. In 2013, 29% of Americans relied on social media as their primary source for customer service. Customer service is no longer just an afterthought, which means that company representatives must be prepared to handle requests or complaints that may arise from any form of communication.
Social media is now a major facet of how companies do business and interact with customers. As such, customer service on social media is becoming more and more prevalent. One company that's doing things differently and gaining attention is Zappos. Twitter, Facebook and the Zappos blog are all integral pieces to the customer service puzzle that is Zappos. It makes sense for a shoe company like Zappos to invest in social media, as they depend on customers to buy their product.
Social media, or the connection between individuals through the Internet, using web 2.0 settings and programs, is now in full swing, according to the Associated Press. Most social media websites and newer versions of software – browsers, smart phones, and the like – are free of charge, at least as far as many of them are concerned. It has been advertised, pushed, utilized, enhanced, and tuned to the point of becoming ridiculous. Despite this, it does not seem to have materialized for a number of significant corporations. There are still many customer service-related businesses that are either unaware of the advantages of social media or have not yet embraced them in their operations.
You might argue that they have suffered a loss, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. It is the consumers that suffer the most as a result of this. Customer advantages achieved via web 2.0 are being denied to them since they must continue to depend on outdated contact mechanisms, such as contact forms and telephone lines, to communicate with companies.
Take, for example, the two most popular social media networks, Facebook and Twitter, which are both widely used. Both are well-suited for rapid and effective connection with the client base of practically any organization, whether it is a multinational corporation or a small local business.
The majority of businesses already have a Facebook profile, which they utilize to advertise their goods and services by clicking on the “Like” button. When you love a certain service or product, you click on the Like button to inform all of your friends that you have discovered something that has worked well for you. Users may also post comments on the Facebook sites of their favorite or least favorite firms, whether they are critical or otherwise, with the assurance that the remark will be seen by someone, even if they do not respond to the message directly. The comment will be visible to anyone else who visits the page, unless the company in question decides to remove it; admittedly, this is a bad company practice, but it is used to avoid creating a negative impression when a service or product fails to meet the expectations of potential future customers.
One billion (according to Facebook numbers) potential visitors makes Facebook one of the most effective contact options accessible on the web today, and it has virtually supplanted the traditional web site contact.
Twitter is the second most popular social media network, despite the fact that many businesses are underestimating its potential. Similarly to Facebook, it provides the potential for expansion and touch with a genuine client base, but it offers even more opportunities for growth and communication. The ability to swiftly emphasize what is available and connect to their goods is provided by Twitter, and firms may answer customer problems in a concise and clear way by responding to them promptly and effectively. It is possible to reach all types of prospective clients in a matter of seconds by using hashtags (key phrases that are prefixed with the # sign).
It is also not essential to go from one screen to another while using Twitter; just refreshing the Timeline brings new messages to the forefront of the screen. The creation of a second or third information platform is also unnecessary; a simple link to an existing web page or image does this in a fraction of the time. Twitter also allows users to send 140-character messages, which are shown on other people's Timelines immediately after they have been sent. Replies are also more convenient since adding the original writer's @ tag – which is their Twitter contact name and address – immediately delivers the message to them as well as anybody else who visits the company's Timeline on the social media site. Twitter is, in fact, a far more intimate way of communication between a company and its customers.
What is it about Facebook that makes it so much more popular for customer service than Twitter?
First and foremost, Facebook has far more weight in the eyes of many than Twitter. Products are shown on a company's website, along with descriptions and images. In the Timeline, Twitter only displays links that direct prospective customers to other websites, however the current version of Twitter does enable users to access an image or other media in the timeline. Facebook has done a far better job of marketing itself than Twitter, and it will probably continue to do so.
Twitter, on the other hand, is, in my view, considerably more sensitive to the demands of customers than Facebook is. Promotions that include product details are OK, but they may not always satisfy the demands of customers. A response or a link to an answer should be provided as soon as feasible to customers who are experiencing difficulties with their product or service. Traditional methods of communication, such as sending a message via a contact page on the company's website or picking up the phone, are no longer relevant to the younger generation. Furthermore, calling a firm to utilize their customer service is associated in many people's thoughts with lengthy delays, with outsourced help desks, and with individuals who are unable, unwilling, or unable to provide fast and effective assistance. Because telephone calls are one-on-one conversations between one person and another faceless person, they do not allow for input from others who may be able to assist with far greater speed and efficiency than the help desk representative, based on their own experiences.
I recently had to get in touch with a German telephone provider, which happens to be the firm that owns the contract for my smart phone. With my own impairments, this is a little different situation, but it demonstrates a unique need nevertheless. The telephone company's website is confusing and cluttered with advertisements for new offers as well as a plethora of prices, contract options, and discounts that are difficult to browse through when you're looking for a rapid response. It is unlikely that a contact message sent will be responded to immediately, and it is even more likely that any response will be a form reply (building block) that does not satisfy the requirements of the sender or recipient.
Fortunately, this specific firm also has a Twitter account. Unfortunately, the four persons who are named as the account's operators seem to be solely posting (rare) advertisements for new goods and network improvements on the platform. They do not respond to any of the queries or criticisms that have been sent to them via Twitter messages. Twitter, the social networking site, is now inaccessible to Internet users due to technical difficulties. Despite this, the account, which is managed by four employees, has the potential to become a superb time-saving communication medium for the organization in the future. The organization might save time and money by responding to questions in minutes, even if the responses were longer than 140 characters, by using a service such as Twitlonger, which allows for longer responses.
How many businesses understand the importance of being able to respond quickly?
Unfortunately, there are just a handful of them. We live in a culture in which practically everyone feels that they have a limited amount of time available. We run from one appointment to another, have our work and play schedules, and there is always something to do in our lives. Because of the immediacy of the Internet, many people anticipate – if not demand – that all the information they want is instantaneously accessible, which may or may not be the case. The concept of patience has long since vanished from the Internet's realm of existence. If my mobile phone does not accomplish what I want it to do right now, it is completely ineffective. If I am unable to get an explanation on how to rectify the situation, the firm becomes ineffective in the eyes of the client.
Every firm of any kind that depends on consumer interaction these days has an Internet presence, a Facebook page, a customer service department, a help desk, and someone who is specifically responsible for Internet-related issues and questions. The majority of customer support departments are directly connected to the Internet, allowing them to discover answers on their own web site or respond to emails as soon as they come. Is the inclusion of an interactive Twitter account going to be too much of a load on their already-overburdened schedule? No, I don't think that is the case. I feel that the addition would result in a significant increase in their efficiency and, more importantly, in their customer satisfaction ratings as well.
Customer service, whether it's after-sales, maintenance, or general inquiries, is a critical component of every firm nowadays. It encourages customers to remain loyal to the company. Good customer service maintains customers, and consumers who buy the same items continue to do so. For me, it is all about maintaining a positive reputation in the marketplace, and Twitter, just as much as Facebook, is an integral part of that process.