What are you doing when you have a problem with a product? A few years ago, your first reflex would be to call the hotline. Now, people go online to find a solution. What are the opportunities for companies? Is the traditional customer service dead?

    Social customer service, a highly reactive channel

    Why 57% of consumers prefer to search online to solve a problem instead of calling a hotline? Because when you tweet USPS for a lost packet, you’re sure the community manager will answer as fast as possible, instead of waiting for 30 minutes listening an irritating music.

    Sometimes (we can even say frequently…) people go on social media to complain to friends, family and followers when they have a problem, without getting in touch with customers services. But it is a mistake if companies do not pay attention to what is said about them, because this activity on social media is the one which may have the highest impact on their brand image.

    This inconvenient is also the great asset of social media: companies can figure out a problem before they are officially contacted, and so manage their online reputation. There, consumers feel like companies really take care of them, and it is the most efficient publicity for them.

    Vine, the new customer service

    The social media based on short videos (maximum of 6 seconds) is not so used by brands to engage with their customers. However this very interactive social media has a high potential, as everyone prefers watching videos than reading a long Q&A page.

    The bank NatWest understood it very well by launching a series of clips answering frequently asked questions and giving tips away.

    The idea of customer service was there, but not as much developed as it was mixed with humoristic videos. A French company (once again a bank) has continued the evolution by launching a series of videos which answer the 15 most popular questions asked on their Twitter account.

    Companies have a new channel to offer solutions to consumers with a little bit of humor, and which also means not having someone available all day long to answer questions.

    Is this the end of hotlines?

    Even if social customer service seems to kill traditional customer service, they are in fact complementary. Social customer service enables companies to use a lighter tone and answer minor problems, but hotlines are there to find a solution for bigger issues.

    Indeed, hotlines are still mainly used as customer service, and the favorite channel to contact a company, as 68% of people say “make phone contact number easier to find” when you ask them what companies could do to improve their customer service experience.

    Companies have to face a real change in their approach of customer service. They would have to adopt a new strategy which mixes traditional and social customer service if they want to fit customers’ expectations.


    If you want to better understand how social media are changing customer service, check the infographic below.



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