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Social Serving a Must?

Social servicing is a hot topic that is fueling a lot of internal and external debates. There are fervent advocates on both sides of the fence with passionate arguments for engaging or not engaging in customer service via social channels. At the end of the day though, it all comes down to the customer. Where do your customers want to engage with you? That’s where you need to be.

J.D. Power and Associates has a long history of measuring customer satisfaction in service interactions and our Contact Center Solutions can help ensure that companies are delivering the best service experience possible. Because we are so focused on maximizing customer satisfaction, we decided to research consumers’ experiences using social as a service channel. We wanted to find out which companies were doing well and more importantly, why, so we could identify best practices and help other companies improve their efforts.

One of the most interesting things we found is that younger consumers are more likely to visit a brand’s owned social sites for servicing activities (asking a question, resolving a problem, getting information, etc) than they are for marketing purposes. Take a second and read that sentence again… Are you now rationalizing to yourself that your target customer is older? A business? Generally not a 'young consumer'? That’s not a valid excuse because the younger consumers of today will soon be older consumers with certain fixed expectations on customer service. When they age to be your "target demographic" you’ll be too late. You’ll be starting to develop a social strategy while your competitors are delivering a best-in-class experience.

We’ve finally been able to identify and define consumer expectations in social servicing interactions so the argument that some companies make that there are no clear guidelines on how consumers expect to interact with companies in social is irrelevant. Companies have a choice: create a proactive social servicing presence, and engage with customers where they want to engage or, wait until a frustrated customer takes their experience viral and your PR team is left picking up the pieces.

Top performing companies in our 2013 Social Media Benchmark Study like jetBlue, Ford and PNC Bank demonstrate that social service practices that not only meet but exceed customer expectations are possible. By studying the practices of these companies, as well as understanding consumer expectations specifically (down to the time they expect you to respond to and resolve their inquiries in) we can start recognizing the opportunities social can bring to connect with consumers instead of hiding behind the challenges.