On a simple level it's obvious. Social media is something that a billion people on our planet access daily. Facebook proved this when it revealed that active daily users topped a billion people in a recent blog post by Mark Zuckerberg. This being the case, why would customer service through social, not be a popular option to a consumer?
We need to examine this on 3 levels: How important is customer service to a mobile-first customer, how our behavior shapes the way we communicate online, and how the social channels are evolving to meet this consumer and mobile first need.
How important customer service is with a mobile-first consumer?
Data shows that it's extremely important. By 2020, over 75% of all transactions will be completed through mobile with 6.1 billion smartphone users globally. What does this mean for brands? Smartphone usage has increased exponentially as social usage has increased.
With Millennials growing up in a mobile first culture, and the world quite literally at their fingertips, brands need to be ready to take this on and move their customer service experience to channels where their consumers choose- not what the brand wants to use.
That's why employing new tools that take advantage of the accessibility and instant gratification of mobile takes customer service capabilities to the next level. There are a variety of tools that allow businesses `to better reach their mobile customers. In my experience as a customer, I have found OwnerListens to be particularly useful.
While staying at a hotel in London, I noticed my room was not as clean as it should be. Instead of getting mad and filing a complaint with the manager, I saw that the hotel provided a service where you could actually text the manager and get a response right away.
Not only was this more convenient for me, but I was also happy to see my problem solved within 15 minutes. This level of service impressed me enough that I was willing to stay there again despite the initial mess.
While text messaging is definately a great way for brands to get instant feedback from customers, social media is certainly another viable option. We see with app usage daily consumers really only access 4-5 apps each days according to a TechCrunch article back in July 2015.
Of these apps how many are social media? At least 50% of this app usage will relate to social media. Social is how we keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and our brands. Why wouldn't we? We're addicted to our smartphones and these apps make our busy, frantic lives a little easier. If that includes using the Twitter app to tweet my favorite coffee brand on my morning commute, why wouldn't I?
Since our consumers are expecting more and more in-the-moment customer care from our brands, it's time for companies take action to ensure these needs are being fulfilled. Conversocial's CEO Joshua March believes that this is where brands can really differentiate their customer service offerings.
Josh recently was quoted as saying "the customer journey is increasingly taking place on mobile and social media apps, and businesses need to be where the consumer is to assist--in the same channels and the same conversation--to help, engage and wow them." This way the customer feels empowered as a result of being able to choose not only the brand, but the conversation it has with the brand, and the channel for themselves.
One example of this is Facebook Messenger. Facebook's new Businesses on Messenger product is going to be a growing channel to do this, and it brings in many new features including transaction receipts, real-time chat and other innovations which will really serve social care. One minute your consumer can be chatting to their best friend about dinner reservations, the next they can message your brand about their clothing delivery. In one application, with the click and a swipe of a smartphone.
This all leads to the channel being selected by the consumer and therefore, the customer service resolution dictated by the customer. I get on a train, I expect to be able to tweet the train company if my train is delayed and get a response within minutes. Why? Because it is at my fingertips, the train timetables, the ability to fill in an online form for a refund, and talk to a human being about why I'm standing on a platform waiting for a train delay.
How our behavior shapes the way we communicate online
Social naturally plays to our social and human behaviour traits. Humans love communicating, we do it all day everyday, it used to be phone calls, texts, and now the medium has matured, tweets, privates messages, Whatsapp, which all prove that social isn't going anywhere.
It's only maturing as a channel. Social won't be an isolated channel as this market matures, it will become as natural as emailing a company is already to a consumer, in fact consumer already consider social their channel of choice.
To that point, we all know that email is not an effective communication tool. It frustrates your consumer when they want a quick answer from your brand, as email channels usually come with at least a 48 hours service level. Whereas, social is a natural channel to communicate between human beings, it suits our behaviour of being in a "live" conversation with one another.
It humanises a conversation, you can see the person you're talking to, their likes, dislikes, their background, their context of who they are. If we stepped back a moment, isn't this best kind of customer service a brand could deliver?
The simple fact, the more human a technology is, the more we embrace this as consumers. Social has proved this with it's popularity increasing year on year.
How the social channels are evolving to meet this consumer and mobile-first need
We've gone full circle on social. When they first launched for brands, public rants on Facebook walls had brands running scared. Today, the rise of 1-2-1 messaging has proved a viable solution for brands to have a conversation with their consumer on a private platform that is safe for both brand and consumer.
Facebook and Twitter have recognised this, probably due to the close relationship they have with brands that use this platform. As a result, have embarked on new and innovative ways to ensure they remain a tactical service a solution businesses can rely on for years to come.