At TP we have been advocating the use of social media as a customer support channel for several years now. In fact, one of our major research themes for this year is the development of the omnichannel, where customers can reach out to brands across any channel with equal success and satisfaction.
It was therefore interesting to read this ComputerWorld article about a disconnect between how companies expect consumers to contact them and how consumers really are behaving.
This research suggests that over 70 per cent of Australian companies are now offering a customer service option via a social media channel. This sounds impressive, but the same research shows that only 31 per cent of consumers had used a social media support channel in the past three months.
The research suggests that end consumers prefer tools such as Facebook yet companies are favouring Twitter and blogs – leading to a disconnect between the social channel companies are offering and how customers actually want to use these channels to get real support.
Which brings me back to my point about the omnichannel. If a company offers social support, but then expects the consumer to have an account on a social media platform and to go and seek out a specific page or website then it is not far different from the days when they would publish a customer service email address.
The whole point of what we are seeing with the development of the omnichannel is that companies need to be agnostic. They need to find where the customers are and what they are saying – they cannot dictate which tools customers should use… remember the omnichannel should be about making it easy to reach the brand regardless of how that contact is initiated.
It is impressive to see almost three quarters of Australian companies offering social media support, but I hope they take notice of the way people are behaving. Customer service teams now need to find and engage the customer rather than just wait for a complaint to arrive.