If you’ve got a consumer problem or a business query, what options are open to you? Do you phone the company directly and complain, visit the business in question and have it out face to face, or do you simply set out your concerns in an email? Well, these simple default actions are no longer the first port of call when it comes to resolving complaints and queries if new research is to be believed. Now consumers are increasingly turning to social media for answers to questions and to vent their spleen.
The survey, conducted by Echo Managed Services, a customer contact and engagement specialist, polled 1,000 consumers in the UK in order to get their views on customer service interactions. Echo Managed Services sought their views and opinions on contact centres, and found that social media could no longer be regarded as the poor relation when it came to customer contact: indeed, the survey found that social media now needs to be taken seriously as a standalone customer contact channel.
One in five of the survey’s respondents said that social media was now their preferred channel when complex problems needed resolving or for voicing complaints. What’s more, 14 per cent of the respondents said they used social media as their first port of call when faced with a crisis or to make a booking and 13 per cent opted to use it to request information in preference to all other contact channels available. Worryingly for businesses who take such customer contact issues lightly, 1 in 3 customers polled said they would move their business elsewhere if they encountered poor service.
So what conclusions can be drawn from this survey? Well, according to Chris Cullen, head of sales and marketing at Echo Managed Services, it’s simply this: social media now matters when it comes to customer relations. Businesses who neglect to take this issue seriously, and do not prioritise social, may well find their customers taking their business elsewhere:
“Our research findings demonstrate that consumers are willing to use social media for a variety of enquiries – even for complicated ones and to make a complaint,” he said.
“Due to the unpredictability of these customer issues and the public-facing nature of social media, we believe it should be managed by the customer services function – experts in handling multi- channel customer contact day in day out – rather than an organisation’s marketing department. But what’s crucial is that both departments work closely together, and not in isolation.”
“Organisations must offer consistency of customer service across all contact channels, and due to the variety of enquiries coming through social media, the channel must be developed as broadly as possible, and not simply rely on stock answers to customer questions as is sometimes the case in social media channel management.”
“Ultimately not prioritising social media as much as other contact channels is a risk, and can lead to lost customers and potentially harm to brand reputation.”