The rise of the internet and availability of huge amounts of information on every conceivable topic & subject on the World Wide Web have changed the way customers interact with the businesses. A study by the Corporate Executive Board of more than 75,000 people who had contacted B2C and B2B call centers found that 57% looked for answers on the website before calling the company and such self service oriented customers will help in reducing costs for the businesses as they tend to call the call centers less frequently. Social Media particularly Social Networking sites have become integral part of people’s lives and consumers post more than 1 million social messages every minute and these social messages includes updates about individual’s personal life, share thoughts, content, comments and complaints about the companies with which they interact. Smart companies are listening to these conversations and using social media for much more than marketing. Social media has become one of the platforms for customer service over the last few years and some of the brands like Dell, Lenovo, Best Buy, etc have services their customers through various social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc and significantly improved their customer satisfaction levels. There are other traditional channels like email, contact center, help lines, etc available for the customers to interact with the businesses but they are preferring social media most and this is not a recent phenomena as earlier customers and still are using other digital platforms like discussion forums, blogs, chat rooms for customer service. There are instances where businesses when neglected the social media chatter and complaints in regards to their products & services have significantly impacted the brand reputation and even the sales of the products.
This is further highlighted by eMarketer research which reveals that 46% of customers want to solve a problem when they're engaging with a brand on social media, and 39% are looking to give feedback about a product or service. The study from Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research also found that the number of customers engaging with brands through social media doubled from 19% to 38% in just the last eight months. According to the research, 65 per cent of people say that social media is a better way to communicate with companies than call centers. The 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer found that consumers who have used social media for service have the most influence as they tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and also say they’d spend 21% more with companies who deliver great service – compared to 13% on average. They are also far more vocal about service experiences, both good and bad. In addition, more than 80% of these consumers say they’ve bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55% overall. Consumers who use social media for customer service will tell an average of 42 others about a good experience -- and tell an average of 53 people about a bad customer-service experience. The general population, in contrast, will tell 15 people about a good experience and 24 about a negative one. Businesses have realized that social media is is a valuable service and marketing channel as it allows customers and prospective buyers understand how the company can solve their problems. Despite all the facts Businesses are still not totally hooked on to social customer service and those customers that are using it effectively also feel it is very important to address customer concerns on social media but social customer requests are below 20% of total requests.