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How Important is Out of Hours Social Customer Service?

Marie Rose
By Marie Rose on Jul 19, 2012 1:56:00 PM

Most customer service teams clock off at 5pm, but early evening is one of the busiest times on social networks. Your staff has headed home, but so have your customers, and now they actually have the time to speak to you. With a significant number of customer service requests raised outside of typical contact center hours, are companies putting themselves at risk by remaining unavailable? The Internet thrives 24 hours a day, and as companies shift fully online, they are expected to keep up. KLM and SWISS have taken this into account, setting up social customer service teams that are available 24 hours a day on Facebook and Twitter, while Sky and Tesco offer customer service into the evenings. Other businesses will need to follow suit. If companies do not have a team of agents available in the evening, customers are not only getting ignored when they need help, but getting ignored publicly - just when the most people are looking.

Out of hours customer service teams help to satisfy consumer expectations for social engagement. 

  1. Customers expect a fast response speed
    30% of customers expect a response to the questions they post through social media in under an hour. It's impossible for customers to get this level of service from a business that isn't operating an out of hours customer service team. Companies should be aware of the times their customer service representatives are most in demand, in order to allocate their services accordingly. Without an evening customer service team, customer service issues build up to be tackled the next day. We’ve found that this backlog presents a major obstacle for those trying to maintain a consistent service level during the day, who have to spend time catching up on yesterday’s posts before they can start afresh. An out of hours team can help to speed up service at all times of the day.

  2. Companies are already encouraging evening interactions
    Posting to social networks after regular working hours has helped companies to increase engagement with their customers, by up to 30%. Social media managers will be found permanently connected to social media on the go, tablet or smart-phone in hand. But if companies share marketing materials outside of normal work hours, consumers will expect the brands to answer their customer service questions as well. Out of hours service teams simply complete the picture for the kind of communication encouraged by marketing departments. 

  3. Unanswered messages are seen by everyone
    The public nature of social networks means that unanswered questions are available for the entire world to see. Because of the 24-hour accessibility of the Internet, companies are stuck in a trap when it comes to keeping up target response times. The longer customer messages are left unanswered on Facebook and Twitter, the more consumers will see complaints and presume neglect, and may feel discouraged to engage with that company themselves. Conversocial has found that 88% of us are less likely to do business with a brand we see ignoring customers on social media.  And we’ve already established that most eyes are on your activity in the evenings. This risk can be reduced with an out of hours customer service team to ensure no message goes unanswered, no matter what time of day it is sent. 

Customer expectations on social media are getting higher and higher, making the pressure on companies to respond accordingly ever greater. As social media becomes more established as a route for customers to take their problems to companies they do business with, businesses will need to adapt to keep up with their customers’ needs and over service not just where, but when they want it.

Do you think there is a demand for out of hours customer service teams? We’re interested to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Got any suggestions for what you’d like to hear from us? Send your thoughts to marie@conversocial.com, or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas.

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