Talk to any executive of a large or medium sized company contemplating having customer support on Social Media channels and one of the first question you are likely to hear is But how can we afford it? Well, the right question is Can you afford not having Customer Support on Social Media? Here’s why:
Reason No. 1: Numbers Stupid!
According to a recent research study by The Nielsen Company, “Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, up from 15.8 percent just a year ago” – a whopping 43% increase in the last one year (for more, please see this link). And if % time spent on Social Networking sites continues to grow at its current rate, soon it will account for more than 50% of time spent online – meaning Social Networks will become the dominant force “online” and Social Networking will become synonymous with the internet.
Reason No. 2: It is Social!!
Many People equate Social Networking with communicating via Chat or Email. Well, they cannot be farther from truth. It is important to note “Social” in Social Networking and that it is not just networking. Conversations on Social Media channels are public – visible to all. And customers and potential customers are discussing about problems or issues with products and brands on Social Media channels whether the marketer is participating in the discussion or not.
It is important for marketers to participate in the discussion and provide Customer Support on Social Media channels as unlike email or chat, interaction on Social Media channels is not just limited to customer and the marketer, but is visible to all other customers and prospects, and they can participate in the discussion as well and benefit from it. Any favorable resolution of an issue is visible to all and can contribute to building of brand equity and loyalty.
Reason No. 3: It can dramatically reduce cost of customer support!!!
It is common knowledge in the industry that cost of providing customer support is highest in face-to-face transactions, followed by cost of providing support over phone. After the internet revolution in ’90s, many companies started offering online “self-service” customer support where customers can log an issue and search FAQ or solution database for resolving their problem. This helped reduce cost of providing support drastically.
Customer Support over Social Media channels can help companies further reduce cost of providing support as on Social Networks, brand advocates/loyal customers help other customers out by answering their questions or suggesting solution, rather than company Reps trying to answer all the question. Role of marketer is to provide necessary platforms and tools for support and moderate the online discussion where ever required. But majority of “support” is provided by brand advocates and loyal customers.
Think of it as support center outsourced to other customers! This can dramatically reduce cost of providing customer support.
What do you think? Should companies provide Customer Support on Social Media channels?