With consumer demand for service through social media soaring in 2012, Social Customer Service is undeniably here to stay.
We explore how Social Media has revolutionized Customer Service over the past year, and look ahead to what 2013 holds.
The past year has seen social media revolutionize what we thought we knew about customer service. Last year, we predicted that marketing would begin to loosen its grip on social media and make room for customer service. Today, that's been achieved and companies are ready to take customer engagement further. What do the experts have to say about social customer service as 2012 comes to a close, and what can we expect from the year to come?
2012: The Year Consumers Got Social
2012 has been the year in which businesses have been figuring out the completely new challenges social customer service presents, bringing teams together in completely new ways to provide what customers want. eMarketer’s 2012 Multichannel Customer Service report found a significant rise in the number of consumers relying on social media for their customer service inquiries (3 percent in 2011 compared to 10 percent in 2012.) Social media offers them benefits that can’t be found using any other customer service channel.
NM Incite’s State of Social Customer Service 2012 study shows that more of today’s consumers prefer to use social media for customer service than ever before. Over half of social media users under the age of 45 are actively using social media for customer care - a percentage which is most definitely set to rise over the coming years. Among the 18-24 year olds, 59 percent have already taken their support issues to social media and 37 percent would rather turn to social media than the phone for help. Social media as a customer service route has broken away from speculations that it’s just a fad, and is undoubtedly becoming very popular.
We’re getting there in meeting this demand, but there’s still a way to go. SAP’s Social Customer Service Conflict study stated that 77.6 percent of those surveyed invested less than $50,000 in resources towards social customer service as they were yet to see the real value in social customer service. Even for the big players, performance can be patchy when it comes to delivering a solid and consistent level of service through social channels. The Great Social Customer Service Race from Software Advice found that although some companies are offering great support through social media, others are still struggling to deliver timely responses, with many still refusing to respond at all.
2013: The Year Social Customer Service Goes Mainstream
Next year offers businesses the chance to reap benefits from the toil to figure out the social media question of 2012. All this consumer demand makes one thing clear for companies in 2013 - Social Customer Service has got to go mainstream and Customer Service will have to be at the helm of social.
NM Incite shares the advantages of using social media to build personal customer relationships and create brand advocates. They found that 71 percent of consumers who encounter positive social care experiences are more likely to recommend the brand to others. And eMarketer points to the tangible financial rewards of such positive experiences; 86 percent of customers are more likely to buy from a retailer if they are very satisfied with their customer service interaction. And not only can you capitalize through customer retention and advocacy but this social engagement can change your entire business. Trendspotting and proactively listening to what consumers are saying about a brand and competitors can be used to improve businesses at the core, channeling feedback into product development and merchandising. All in all, the era of Social CRM offers exciting possibilities for everyone.
2012 has been the year of customer empowerment, with customers exercising the power and influence they hold over company relationships and reputations; and businesses realizing they have to recognize that. So what for 2013? We can expect to see a much higher investment into social customer service; in the recent IBM Global CEO study, executives predicted that social media will overtake the contact center as a primary engagement channel, second only to face to face interaction. For this to happen, expect to see a transformation of the traditional contact center as social really moves in, and businesses adapt to a new mode of customer relationship. Some innovators have already started to change how they do business with customers, and next year the rest will have to catch on. In 2013, Social Customer Service will go mainstream; bring on the contact center of the future.
How far have you come with Social Customer Service in 2012? And what are your predictions for 2013?