It is an irrefutable fact that social media has penetrated the corporate domain. It is safe to say that its momentum is only increasing as time goes on. So, what are the benefits of implementing social media into your customer service strategy? Subsequently, what are the downfalls?
1. It decreases customer effort.
Customer effort is a leading factor in determining an individual’s overall sentiment towards a brand. A single unsatisfactory interaction can terminate a customer’s loyalty indefinitely. Social media offers an efficient way for businesses to offer rapid assistance on a familiar and easy-to-navigate platform. Additionally, it allows you to provide a solution to a common problem in a public space. Those with the same issue will receive second-hand assistance, saving both the customer and business time and effort.
2. It creates a personal connection with customers.
Social media gives businesses the opportunity to provide personalized service to customers. Giving both parties a distinct voice, it cultivates authentic and organic interactions. Personalized exchanges between customer and corporation yield large returns in loyalty. Information from a study conducted by Twitter shows that customers’ willingness to buy a product from a company increases by up to 20% when they receive a response from the brand online.  Even you are unable to offer a resolution, simply acknowledging the user will increase loyalty. The same Twitter study found that 69% of people stated that they feel more favorable when a company responds to their negative tweet. 
3. It will boost your reputation.
When social media customer service is done correctly (i.e. quickly and thoroughly), loyalty and overall sentiment towards your brand will improve. Twitter’s study revealed that customers are 44% more likely to share their positive experiences after receiving a response from a company.  Additionally, their likeliness to recommend your brand to others increases by 30%.  Establishing a consistent presence online will boost your reputation and demonstrate your willingness to help customers.
1. Not everyone wants to use social media for customer service.
Despite social media’s growing presence, there are still customers who may prefer to adhere to traditional customer service methods. Or perhaps they do not use social media at all. Research conducted by Pew Research center revealed that only 23% of U.S. adults use Twitter.  Older generations may have difficulty navigating social platforms or simply lack enthusiasm for social media all together. By utilizing social media as a method of customer service, you run the risk of drawing focus away from those whom are not active online.
Solution: Maintain alternative forms of customer service and allocate adequate attention to each method. Customer service is best when your methods cater to your customer.
2. It can elicit higher expectations.
A caveat to pro number one, the social media customer service strategy can raise expectations from customers. A study conducted by Social Sprout found that 48% of respondents value a quick response on social media above other actions a brand could take.  Once you demonstrate your ability to provide quality customer service, it establishes a certain standard for future interactions. Without social media, customers may be unaware of your general cadence in response time and frequency. Yet, when you assist customers on a public platform others will expect the same quality of service.
Solution: Ensure a consistent and efficient system that provides equal assistance to all users.
3. It can place a limit on the interaction.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to offer thorough assistance on a social platform in comparison to a traditional customer service program. For example, Twitter is a great platform for personalized interaction, but it also limits posts to 140 characters. The task of resolving a customer’s issue in a few short sentences may prove to be challenging. In this case, it is a trade-off between quickness in response time and quality of assistance.
Solution: Re-direct issues that require extensive assistance to a more suitable platform. You may also consider moving the conversation to a direct message on social media. This lets you keep the personalized aspect while offering a more in-depth response.
Every strategy has its pros and cons. Effectively combating the cons with alternative solutions can help to avoid negative repercussions. In the realm of customer service, it is vital to maintain an open line of communication. Ultimately, a strong social media customer service strategy will cultivate positive sentiment towards your brand and improve individual customer loyalty.
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