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Does customer service click with social media?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012
By: Daniel

Social media is one of today’s biggest phenomena and in a recent poll on our website, 48% of respondents said it had an impact on customer service in their organisation. Has social media changed the customer experience and, if so, does it affect customer service skills?

The concept of social networking is not new: both LinkedIn and MySpace have been around since 2003. The last few years has seen an explosion in social networking which has changed how individuals engage with it. Social media is a powerful medium for flows of information, traveling at a largely unconstrained and unprecedented rate. This enables mass consumption of information, meaning that social media is an agent that can cause change around the world.

One of the key areas of change is in customer service. The rise of social networks, and mass conversations, mean that management of customer perceptions is now increasingly a function of customer service. It is changing the relationship dynamic between organisations and customers, shifting power from the former to the latter, who are now both recipients and publishers of information.

Due to social media’s global reach, comments about products or services can potentially reach unlimited numbers of people. While positive messages can serve to reinforce brand images, negative posting can undermine them through negative customer expectations.

The rise in popularity of social media and consumer review sites has placed greater emphasis on organisations getting customer service right first time. With social media encouraging customers to be more aware of customer service experiences, customers are also now more likely to complain if their service expectations are not met.

The effects of these changes for those who work in customer service calls for the flexible application of high level customer service skills at work. In particular, employees should be encouraged to work while always prioritising customer expectations.

In addition, as organisations strive to become more customer focused in a demand led economy, customer service representatives could be urged to act as organisational or brand ambassadors and act in ways that reinforce the brand image and values.

This raises certain questions:

Can social media have a positive effect on organisations and their employees in terms of skill levels?

Should organisations invest in developing customer service skills to stay competitive?

Could improvements in customer service skills have a positive effect on the UK economy and reducing unemployment?

Lastly, social media has led to big challenges and opportunities in customer service. But do these changes disadvantage businesses that are less able to engage in social media?


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  • Daniel
    @Kerry McLennan-McKenzie Hi Kerry. Thanks for the comments! I think you're spot-on! Social media represents a great opportunity for upskilling in organisations, skills that are of benefit to both employees and organisations, aiding employees development. It seems to me that a more skilled workforce and greater visibility can be such a positive thing, both socially and economically.
  • Organisations need to see the value of social media and the value of ensuring their customer facing workforce know and understand its power and pitfalls. Investing in training, as well as creating new specific roles within social media, will allow greater customer awareness but also brand awareness. The more successful your organisations social media skills the stronger your identity and customer confidence. Ignoring social media is a step backward for any business but to use it incorrectly and without the proper knowledge and understanding is potentially company suicide.
  • Social media has become feared by organisations. Horror stories of inappropriate tweets to customers almost bringing a business to its knees through complaints on Facebook. We are in a time of no where to hide, but business are hiding instead of understanding and embracing its potential. Social media can have a positive effect on organisations, support growth and internal skills development. Due to the known power of social media, allowing employees to use it not only helps their skills development but also makes them take responsibility for your companies’ image, brand and growth.