Social media, typically viewed by companies as a marketing platform, has started to reach a new level of maturity and branch out. The next big step is to get a company's customer service, traditionally a physical aspect, social. This is called social customer service and should become the next step in a company’s social media plan.
Social customer service is a bit of an ambiguous term with no real established meaning. Before you pursue this strategy, you should be clear on exactly what it is and the benefits it can bring your company.
What exactly is social customer service?
Think of the last time you had a problem with a program on your computer. Did you contact tech support? Or did you turn to your friends on social media? If you turned to social media, this is one of the main elements of social customer service.
Customers are starting to go to social media sites when they have questions, many times contacting the company directly. Having customer service elements on social media to answer these questions or field complaints is social customer service. A great example of this is OPEN Forum, run by AMEX. It allows customers to interact with one another, while giving the company a channel to feed technical help and information to them.
Benefits of social customer service
There are four main benefits of leveraging social customer service in your business.
- Increased customer satisfaction. By offering a way for customers to interact with you on a medium many are already comfortable with, you’ll find customers to be more satisfied.
- Meeting consumer expectations. Let’s face it, the majority of your customers are using social media with many now expecting you to as well. If you meet their expectations, there’s a higher chance they’ll stay your customers.
- Increased loyalty. One of the main reasons companies should be on social media is that an effective campaign can help improve customer and brand loyalty. Social customer service is an extra service that can help further increase loyalty.
- Decreased customer service costs. If you offer customer service on social media, you could potentially decrease your total costs. The expenditure required to setup and maintain the online service is fractional compared to the physical operation.
While there are some distinct advantages to social customer service, it’s not a good idea to shift all of your customer support onto social platforms. Rather it should be viewed as a supplementary service, or another way for customers to get in contact with you. If you’d like to know more about how to integrate social customer service into your company's social media plan, please contact us.