Social customer service

Many firms have started working with the various online social networks, in a bid to interact directly with customers and particularly to engage with dissatisfied customers. We have all seen the firestorms that can be created on a network like Twitter, when someone complains endlessly about their mobile or broadband provider.

Customers are becoming very familiar with tools like Twitter as a platform for complaining about brands. So, many intelligent brands have started directly (and transparently) responding within the social network and turning those complaints into compliments by using highly skilled agents capable of fixing most issues very quickly. For those customers familiar with these tools, it’s becoming a shortcut to faster customer service.

For those of us in the industry, it’s interesting to think how far this might go. There has already been a change in consumer behaviour, with many younger consumers preferring online chat to voice support for many activities. Now we are seeing many complaints being resolved directly within public social networks. So could social networks start handling more mundane interactions than the vitriolic attacks often seen on Twitter?

Would consumers with a familiarity using social networks find these environments better for cancelling a direct debit, or querying a phone bill, rather than going directly to the website of the provider? Obviously that opens up the question of privacy, but could tools like Facebook Connect (the system that lets you take your Facebook identity to other websites) mean that you could start using Facebook in a secure way to speak with your bank?

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