Social media has changed the marketing game, and it’s doing the same for customer service, necessitating companies to be active and über-responsive on multiple fronts to keep up with their increasingly tech-savvy customers who expect quick responses to their queries (within the hour, for many of them). With so much information at our fingertips, purchasing services and products has become incredibly simple, and consumers expect the same ease in interacting with the businesses behind these goods. It’s necessary to be available by phone or tweet to cater to customers from different generations, with baby boomers still preferring the phone call to emails and tweets.
Consumers have come to expect rapid responses to complaints and issues, both on social media and in real time with a human on the other end of the phone, and when their expectations are not met, they can share their frustrations with—and turn off—a potentially enormous audience, and Ryan Holmes at Hootsuite reminds us that “[no] business owner likes to see her product’s or service’s foibles or occasional screw-ups maligned in public or, worse still, go viral.”
Response speed has overtaken effectiveness, to the point where a response within an hour that does not resolve the problem is more favorable than one that takes longer but does provide a solution, apparently because a rapid response shows attention and care to the situation. According to a survey by NM Incite, 33% of social media users surveyed said they would recommend a brand that offered a quick but ineffective response, while only 17% would prefer a brand that provided a slow but effective solution. This logic may be hard to get behind, but both customers and research have spoken, with Walker Information reporting that “by 2020, customer service will replace products and price as the main brand differentiator, and this is motivated largely by social media.” It’s necessary for companies who want to keep up to create a varied support network able to respond to communications by phone, email, and social media, the more channels the better to grow and support your customer base.
If your budget allows, hire an expert to speak to your employees. Larry Bailin is a customer service speaker specializing in connecting with consumers in the digital age, from initial marketing efforts to relationship building and engagement. Able to work with companies of all sizes, Bailin is one of the best in the business for those looking to keep up their connected consumers.