Companies have been using social media monitoring for marketing and PR for several years, but new research shows that customer service is rapidly catching up.

Social customer service

In a recent Gleanster report, 73% of ‘Top Performers’ (the top 25% of those surveyed) identified Customer Service as a top reason to invest in social media monitoring, only 1% behind PR.

  • Marketing – 86%
  • PR – 74%
  • Customer Service – 73%
  • Market Research - 64%
  • Sales – 31%
  • Information Security – 29%
  • Product Development – 21%
  • Competitive Analysis – 17%
  • Operations – 8%

The consequence is that the monitoring industry, which was once heavily research-focused and data-heavy, is evolving towards one that combines social media listening with customer engagement and social CRM. As Leon Chaddock, CEO of Sentiment Metrics, explains:

“A standard monitoring tool is great for charts and trends and understanding what’s going on, but it’s not the ideal place for customer service. As a result we’ve had to radically shift our focus.”

From a consumer perspective, it’s easy to see why this trend is occurring. Most consumers are exasperated with the call-centre process and the fact that complaints on social media are so publicly visible gives them an edge over brands that are terrified of reputational damage. But brands also stand to benefit. The top reasons brands are using social media as customer service medium are:

  1. To increase customer satisfaction and loyalty
  2. To reduce customer support costs
  3. To drive customer advocacy

To achieve this, 94% of ‘Top Performing’ brands are focusing on reducing problem resolution time. Not only does this reduce costs, but a social media user that has their complaint quickly and efficiently resolved is likely to use the company again in the future and publicly recommend them to others.

Another advantage of social media monitoring is that you can quickly identify trends. This means that you can identify and resolve recurring problems to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen to other customers. It may be that all that’s required is to add a new topic to the FAQ section of the company’s website and this could defer many customer service enquiries. Furthermore, if there is a specific problem with a product or service you can pass this information on to traditional customer service channels so that they can better prepare for the influx of enquiries that will be coming their way.ly and efficiently resolved is likely to use the company again in the future and publicly recommend them to others.

Clearly there is still a lot of work to be done. Only 71% of ‘Top Performers’ and 41% of ‘Everyone Else’ actively respond to consumer complaints and an estimated 25% have a closed wall on Facebook. What’s more, the average response time for enquiries through social media is over 24 hours, whereas by phone it is 2 minutes.

For now, social customer service is not the quick and easy solution that many consumers are looking for, but as the technology catches up and businesses adopt more efficient processes, it is improving.