Social Media and the Squeaky Wheel of Customer Service

customer service, social media

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you already know that social media plays a major role in connecting with aesthetic consumers before they choose a doctor.

New research, however, is showing that it’s also becoming increasingly important after the fact in terms of providing customer service and generating loyalty. According to a new study by eDigital Research, the fact that social media provides the fastest channel for customer service means that it’s also likely to become the preferred channel for it.

At this point, the numbers for social customer service are still small. Email remains the most popular channel when people reach out to companies with questions or issues (58%) followed by phone (31%). By comparison, just 2% have recently used their Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts to get in touch with a brand.

And yet when it comes to hearing back from companies, social media’s power belies its small presence. According to the study 80% of consumers heard back from a brand they’d contacted within 12 hours when using social media platforms, compared to just 37% who did when reaching out via email. In fact, social media was the only channel that ensured consumers received a response following their initial contact.

You don’t need to be a statistician to recognize that that sort of correlation is a self-reinforcing process. The more that consumers come to realize that they get heard through social media, the more they’ll turn to it when they have something to say.

That takes on even greater significance when what they have to say doesn’t constitute a pat on the back. According to the study, 65% of respondents said that they would make contact to complain. Of those, 44% didn’t hear back within 24 hours and 61% felt that their issue wasn’t fully resolved. It’s one thing if that unresolved issue sits in your email inbox, where no one else will see it, but if it’s delivered via social media, there’s no telling how many others are likely to notice it.

As the report says,

Post experience customer contact is a fantastic way of turning around a negative scenario and delighting customers. It allows brands to increase a customer’s emotional bond with their business which is likely to have effect on their customer loyalty levels.

Doctor Takeaway

Social customer service isn’t a big deal now — but it’s going to be

Customer service represents the next stage in the ongoing evolution of social media. Not only do people expect companies to be available via social, they expect — and increasingly get — the quickest results when they utilize it. It’s easy; it provides results, and the combination provides positive reinforcement in a very public place. In other words, not only does the squeaky wheel get the grease but others who are following its progress come to expect that they, too, will get the same kind of attention.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

, ,