Social Media is the New Call Center
Social media is the new call center
Few if any people predicted social media would take on such a central role in marketing, customer outreach, consumer care and many other areas of business operation when the first social platforms sprang up. However, the power of social media became quickly apparent, in terms of both popularity among the general public and the ability to use these platforms to engage in a variety of different discussions and conversations.
With high levels of adoption – 74 percent of all Internet users also use social media, according to the Pew Research Center, and adoption is in the 90 percent range for people aged 18-29 – it’s easy to see how social networks can be used for customer outreach and interaction. In fact, platforms like Facebook and Twitter have augmented and often supplanted the traditional, phone-based contact center. Now, especially among younger consumers, social is the go-to channel when a question needs to be asked or a concern or complaint needs to be aired.
What makes social an effective channel for consumer care and discussion?
Interacting with customers via social media is inherently different from using the phone for the same purpose. Instead of real-time communication and a focus on a single individual, inquiries made to a brand page or individual location’s account have an element of delay involved and can be responded to in quick succession. This difference allows a single person or small group to address many questions and comments in short order, either resolving the issue at hand or asking further questions and gathering information to eventually work toward a resolution. The simple but powerful shift in the way businesses interact with consumers can boost engagement as well as reduce costs and time spent related to addressing concerns and answering questions.
What special considerations do businesses have to make?
Of course, there are some significant differences in terms of expectations to consider when it comes to social media as a call center or customer service channel. Despite the delays that are part of nearly all interactions on social media, many consumers still expect prompt responses. Search Engine Watch highlighted research from Lithium Technologies that found more than 70 percent of Twitter users expect brands to respond to them within an hour following a tweeted question or complaint. The expectations for other popular networks like Facebook aren’t identical, but the general attitude among customers is a quick response is expected, and response periods of many hours or days may be seen as unacceptable.
Businesses also have to consider social media listening tools, management software and marketing plans and technology. These platforms allow for a high level of one-to-one interactions, but they also facilitate one-to-many messages that can provide significant returns for marketing efforts. Listening tools, which help companies find instances where their names are mentioned – even if it’s not directed at a company’s page or account – are a valuable tool for determining more complete consumer sentiment. Finally, there are also plenty of discussions to be had about developing and optimizing social pages for individual locations. It’s no longer enough to have a single social account represent the many stores that make up a brand – each one has to have its own presence, both for SEO purposes and to better interact with the local community.
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