Why Social Customer Service? Why Now?

Guest Blogger: Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst at Ovum

Social media has become a daily part of life for many. But what is its purpose and why have we become so reliant on these tools? It hasn’t replaced phone conversations, texts, emails or even real life meetings; rather it has become a useful addition. On a simple level, it’s an ever evolving, admittedly often infuriating, view into friends’ lives, a way to send messages, show off, or digitally curate the way we want to be perceived.

But it’s really more than that.

It’s a portal for information, an easy access communication medium that offers updates on the latest news, a place to crowdsource ideas, the ability to message people across the globe, an event management tool as well as a common medium to contact any person or business. And it’s these characteristics that make it a valuable customer service tool.

Organizations need to tap into these capabilities, not only to connect with their customers but also to understand how best to evolve their business. Social customer service is about understanding what customers need, responding to complaints, questions and feedback. It’s about using negative comments to create proactive, positive experiences at the same time as improving products, services and customer loyalty.

And as with any other channel, customers want resolutions and recognition. The difference is that conversations are no longer private between a customer and an agent; they are visible to anyone that views an organization’s Facebook Page. Customers may do a quick Google search and find product information on Twitter or an angry blog post dissuading them from buying from a particular company. In addition, smartphones make it possible to read or comment on these sites at any time, from any location; as a result, customers expect their queries to garner near realtime responses. All these factors make it more pertinent for organizations to invest in social media management tools to track customer comments and be prepared to respond in an efficient and timely manner.

But how can customer service organizations incorporate social media into their contact center and where should they begin? Over the next three months I will be posting a series of blogs that look more in depth at social customer service. Next week I will share my ideas on the most valuable types of social media and the technology required to monitor, measure and respond to social customer support queries.

In the meantime, follow me on twitter @diteb.

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