We have all been that disgruntled customer at one point in our life.  We’ve waited for what seems like hours on the phone, just to talk to a customer service representative who knows nothing about our problem and can’t seem to help. Then social media arrived and things seemed to get easier. A quick post to a Facebook page or a 140 character complaint and boom! Questions answered and minds put at ease with hardly any effort on the consumer’s end. I’d like to think at this point, end of story, close the book, customer service is solved, but sadly no. As easy as many of us think that social media customer service should be, 56% of customer tweets to companies are completely ignored.

So why aren’t companies doing a better job with social media customer service? Some are and some aren’t. Zappos exemplifies great customer service for many – answering tweets and Facebook posts within minutes and usually leaving their customers completely satisfied with their response. With more than 25 people managing their Twitter account (and all other employees trained on it) – they have realized the importance of not only hearing their customers, but answering them. In November, Graham Kahr, a social scientist at Zappos explained in a Forbes article,”Zappos is a live, work, play company. When the company first started using Twitter, it was a way we could stay connected while also helping our customers if they needed it”. By the end of 2012, 47% of social media users seek customer service through their social channels, but only 80% of companies plan to use social media to aid their customer service. Yes 80% is a high number, but just because they plan to use it, doesn’t mean they are using it right.

The number one rule for successful social media customer service is action. Answer those tweets, comment on the Facebook posts, because in the end, customers just want acknowledgement and social media can provide an outlet to do just that.  One of social media’s greatest assets is the ability for brands to really listening to what consumers are saying. They provide invaluable insight that a focus group or survey never could. Brands must realize the importance of customer service, especially now, when it is so easy for a consumer to jump on the internet and find another company to fill their needs.  2013 should be the year when brands strive to outperform their competitors not only in sales but in customer service and brand loyalty.