For many months, the “social media experts” have been telling us that our customers prefer having their customer service issues handled via social media. A new study conducted by M2Talk and released last week found that “most consumers don’t want customer service via social media.” So, what are we to make of this newsflash?
For the last year or two, the experts and prognosticators have not only predicted that social media is the preferred customer service channel of the future, but they have told us we must respond to these issues within a very specific timeframe. These experts went on to argue that responding to customer issues so publicly enhances a firm’s transparency and reputation for customer-centricity.
Some – whose business experience pre-dates social media – believe that few people are at their best when disappointed, frustrated, or angry. After all, for many years, customer service training has emphasized how to defuse a situation, how to calm an angry customer, how to move to customer satisfaction quickly. Do we really want these conversations happening on a channel that is so public? Do we want to “overhear” or “witness” these exchanges? For some people, social media is the least likely forum for customer service issue resolution. Despite the risk of people looking bad, the “insights” about social media as the preferred medium for customer service intervention have continued unabated. From the other side of the conversation, do businesses really want to have every misunderstanding with a customer elevated to public visibility?
Now we are provided the results of a survey of 1,000 US consumers, aged 25 and over, which indicates that only 2 percent of the consumers surveyed said they prefer social media as a customer service channel. What is more, this opinion is more telling once we understand that 67 percent of those respondents have used a company’s social media customer service prior to responding to the survey. In other words, more than two-thirds of respondents to this survey had experienced social media customer service and were not positively impressed. Only 2 percent of all respondents found a social media customer service interaction satisfactory.
The survey also found that 53.7 percent of respondents said they expect a response to a customer service issue in less than one hour during regular business hours; 19.8 percent expected a response within 30 minutes, and 16.9 percent expected a response within five minutes. When asked about their preferred customer service channels, the most popular choice was the telephone (33.5 percent); email followed (32.5 percent), then live online chat (21.3 percent), and, finally, in person (10.4 percent).
While the experts were trying to convince us of the importance of social media for customer service and identify best practices and response time standards, other studies hinted in the direction of the results of this M2Talk survey. NewVoice Media conducted a survey in 2013 and found that 53 percent of US consumers preferred telephone, 19 percent preferred email, and 13 percent preferred social media (including only 27 percent of Gen Y respondents preferring social media).
There are many reasons to take customer service issue resolution offline. In fact, this is the recommendation of most “best practices” outlines when customer anger begins to escalate. Many comments can be taken out of context and misunderstood, a customer might have damaged a product in some way and does not want to admit it, or any number of communication issues can complicate the reason for the customer complaint.
We were not surprised by the responses to this survey as there are tons of businesses who Buy views for your Instagram stories and videos!. Were you? Have you tried social media customer service? How did it go? Would you do it again? We, and our other readers, would like to hear from you. Just post your comments or experiences in the comments box below.