How Social Media Has Changed Customer Service

Social media has fundamentally altered consumer expectations and rocked companies’ consumer services departments in a big way. How so? Consumers are no longer content to play the waiting game, and the very permanent, very viral nature of the internet profoundly impacts company reputation. Here are five was that social media has changed customer service.

Always On
Instant gratification is what the Twittersphere, Instagram and social media world are all about. Gone are the days when “We will respond to your email in the next 24 hours” would do. The consumer needs it now.

The average consumer considers a reasonable response time to be less than four hours. That means companies have over 80% less time than traditionally expected to respond to a consumer’s problem, whether it’s an oversold hotel, undercooked meal or impolite customer service agent. There are no closing hours on social media platforms—as a service provider, you’re tasked with meeting that four-hour deadline at all hours.

The Human Connection
A whopping 67% of consumers use brands’ social media for servicing requests or concerns. Why? Well, it’s social. When a consumer calls a 1-800 number, the chances of talking to another human isn’t great.

With social media, the consumer expects another human to type an answer in response. This human connection can strengthen a relationship between a brand and a consumer. Done correctly, this interaction gives the brand a personality and can make a brand feel like a friend rather than a corporation.

Power Shift
The consumer no longer has the patience to suffer poor service or long wait times. They have no interest in developing that patience, either; 52% of consumers switch providers due to poor customer service and 45% are willing to pay more for better customer service.
Today, you’ve got to provide the consumer with the highest quality service. If not, you will lose money. In the US the estimated cost of customer switching due to poor customer service is $1.6 trillion. Yes, trillion. With a “T.”

The internet never forgets. Once a poor customer service response is out there, there is no taking it back. If a bad review goes unchecked, it’s not going away—ever. A social media interaction, or even the lack thereof, can make or break a company’s reputation, with the latter being noticeably more likely.

Responding to a complaint in social media increases customer advocacy by 20%, but not responding to a complaint in social media decreases customer advocacy by 45%. Companies must be present on social media because every request, concern or complaint is time-stamped and permanently on display for the world to judge.

Social media users utilize the wide-reaching arms of these various platforms to connect and share with others on the issues that are important to them. When an airline bumps someone from the last flight out for the day, that person may very well share this negative experience with their social media network. And if that interaction has a shock factor or is shared by someone with a big following, a PR nightmare promptly ensues; e.g. #deltafail.

By contrast, if a customer has such an over-the-top amazing experience that she feels the need to shout it from the rooftops to her social media following, it could get picked up by a major news site, which then gets shared hundreds of times to hundreds of thousands more social media users. Good news or bad—word travels faster and further than ever.

Consumers have always wanted to be treated like humans and get their issues resolved. The manner in which those problems get solved has altered but the task remains: solve the problem or suffer the consequences.