What is social customer service? It’s exactly what it sounds like! Providing support, informational resources, and engagement to your customers over social media channels.
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We know it seems like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and the like are places to share funny photos of your pets or humble brag about your family vacation to the Bahamas, but they’re also valuable tools for connecting your business to future (and current) customers.
Don’t believe it? Take a look at some of the statistics:
- 45% of the world’s population uses social media. (Emarsys)
- Approximately one in three (34%) customers use social media to learn about or discover new products, services, or brands. (Business 2 Community)
- 51.7% of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative social media reviews. (Review Trackers).
- 42% of people that have social media use it to research businesses. (Data Reportal)
The next era of support in the call center
And it makes sense, right? These channels offer immediate gratification, so they naturally lend themselves to support. Some of the most common complaints consumers have when reaching customer support include excessive wait times, faulty, inefficient IVR systems, and inattentive live agents.
Many customers have come to avoid making phone calls, not only when trying to reach a company, but also when it comes to communicating with friends and family. Many prefer text or email to voice conversations; 75% of millennials now avoid phone calls altogether. Companies have taken notice, and as a result, have shifted the way they engage with and provide support for customers.
From multichannel, to omnichannel, to multi-experience
Call centers have adapted into omnichannel contact centers. Agents, who used to communicate solely over the phone, are now trained to engage with customers through email, SMS, and popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp. Customers are given direct email addresses to send emails to when they need help. In addition, online chat features use AI to communicate with customers 24/7. Through pre-programmed QA scripts, chatbots can provide answers to questions that customers have. They are also able to provide customers with information about their accounts such as balances due, due dates, order status updates, and even provide them the ability to make payments.
Despite the success of these different channels of communication, many of them are also becoming difficult to utilize. For example, communication regulations have been created and extended to cover email and SMS. Emails are subject to unsubscribe laws, where solicitors are not allowed to send emails to customers who choose to opt out or unsubscribe. When customers use the live chat option on a website, many times they are required to stay active on the page, otherwise they may become disconnected and placed back in the queue. As a result, customers begrudgingly have to resort to a phone call to resolve their issue.
Messaging apps, which have consistently become the most downloaded and used apps, have become the most popular way for customers to engage with businesses. In fact, one survey found that 60% of consumers would prefer to use messaging apps to communicate with businesses. Many of these messaging apps include automation and APIs that make it easier for businesses to customize and use with their existing tech stacks.
Differences between digital messaging and traditional phone-based customer support
Some may view app-based messaging and texting as the same concept with little to no differences. However, messaging via social media errs in favor of the customer. If an agent is unavailable, the customer doesn’t have to wait.
An agent will respond once they become available, and customers aren’t put at the back of the queue. In addition, if a customer becomes busy during a messaging interaction, they can come back at any time and pick up where they left off without having to start over again. With phone-based messaging, customers are in real-time, and they can lose their place if they become busy or aren’t available when an agent responds.
Messaging also keeps a full record of all interactions. If a customer needs to speak to another live agent through a messaging app, they do not have to repeat themselves. The agent can simply scroll up and read the previous conversation. Customers often become frustrated when they have to explain their situation all over again to a new agent. Messaging also allows room for document and media exchange.
Through SMS, customers may have to send additional files needed through email or online. With a messaging app, they can easily send an agent the documentation they requested. This reduces the chances of these files getting lost in a constant back and forth with different agents. Automated messaging also provides businesses with a way to give customers a self-service option. This tool can handle easier requests and lightens the workload for live agents so that they can focus on more complex customer support issues.
Where other digital support options fall short, social media provides immediate help
Many other modes of communication that contact centers consider have their disadvantages. For example, native apps that are created specifically for a brand to communicate with customers may not be as popular as global messaging apps like WhatsApp.
Your customers may download and regularly use your app, but many times do not make that connection that your built-in chat function is the best way to reach you because they default to the messaging channels they use everyday.
In fact, one survey found that 25% of apps were only accessed once after being downloaded. In addition, many interactions online still require a voice call follow up, which defeats the purpose of having more convenient modes of communication available. When it comes to email support, one 2021 survey revealed that 62% of customer support agents do not respond to emails. There are many reasons for this – inadequate staffing, high volumes, or just plain poor visibility into the customer journey. This can result in even more escalated calls and frustrated customers.
Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp help overcome these problems. These tools come with features that enhance a company’s support team, and they make it simple for businesses to integrate into their existing support workflows.
This provides a smooth experience for the customer. Click-to-chat features, which make it easy for customers to initiate a WhatsApp message from your website, email, social media post, and more, streamline the customer journey. Many contact centers already use messaging platforms for their communication efforts, and have reaped the benefits of updating their digital outreach to include the next era of online support: social media and social messaging channels.