The Rise of Social in Customer Care

If you are a social media professional, you are probably working closely with your peers in the customer care department. If you are not, you really should be.

Customer care in social has quickly grown in importance. This is one of the seven social media use cases highlighted by new research from TrustRadius, a site for business software users to share real-world insights through in-depth product reviews and networking.

Initially, consumers forced the issue, discovering that the quickest route to a customer service response was not to call the company and open a support ticket, but rather to tweet the issue and have an agent respond to the tweet in almost real time.

Part of the reason for highly responsive customer service over Twitter is that complaints are posted in a public forum and companies will bend over backwards to prevent having their dirty laundry aired in a public arena. We probably all remember “United Breaks Guitars” which is the exemplar of this phenomenon.

Undoubtedly, the purpose of some complaint tweets is just to vent frustration, not necessarily to elicit a response. But research from Nielsen and McKinsey indicates that almost half of all social media users have turned to social channels to resolve customer service issues and 30% of social media users prefer contacting customer service through a social channel rather than by phone.

Some huge brands like Nike, Blackberry, American, Samsung, and
 Dell use social media (mostly Twitter) as a primary support channel, for good reason. An American Express report revealed that customers electing to use social media for service are typically the most engaged and vocal customers, and are prepared to spend substantially more (21%) with companies they believe provide great service.

Social media software vendors are also paying attention.

Community platforms like GetSatisfaction and Jive moved into this area quickly. GetSatisfaction allowed companies to add a special “customer support” tab to their Facebook fan pages so that customer support issues are automatically routed to the customer support team for resolution. Similarly, Jive recently introduced an entire “Social Customer Service Solution.”

Another example of the obvious synergy between online customer community software and social customer care is Lithium’s acquisition of Social Dynamx last October. Social Dynamx, now Lithium Social Web, was specifically designed for customer care in high-volume contact centers.

Conversocial, Brand Embassy, and others are also entirely focused on this use case. In addition, other more broadly focused vendors are also jumping onto the Customer Care bandwagon as indicated in the following social media management vendor landscape visual.

Social Media Management Software vendor infographic
Source: TrustRadius

What about you? Is customer care on your social agenda? Do you have the tools in place to drive better customer satisfaction and ultimately revenues for your organization? You can read more about the perspectives of your peers in this free report.

Bertrand Hazard is Vice President of Marketing at TrustRadius. His primary mission is to attract and engage talented new community members. You can follow his tweets at @productmarketer.