Connecting via Chat: Social Care and Customer Service Insights

It wasn’t that long ago that the way to solve customer service issues was with a phone call or, as a last resort, an in-person visit to a store or business. Today, social media – such as live chat, customer forums and even Facebook and Twitter interactions – has become the go-to customer service strategy for many businesses.


Why? For one, it’s incredibly effective at speedy problem resolution. As an always-on society, customers have adopted the “solve my problem now” mindset – largely because we have the technology to do so.


Consumers are much more tech-savvy than they used to be, and they expect businesses to be just as savvy – from customer service to online store options to the overall buying experience.


Making connections
In a joint report from the E-tailing Group and LogMeIn on the effectiveness of live chat, research showed that consumers aren’t ambivalent about the level of service they expect to receive. Rather, it’s the service they get that helps them make decisions about who they do business with in the future – and which communication channel becomes their platform of choice when they're looking for service and support from businesses.


Social care, as it’s often called, also helps business establish valuable connections with customers – the kind of connections that have the power to keep them coming back to buy again and again. There’s also more interaction between customers and businesses in an online setting like chat, or as part of a live forum. Customers feel like they’re being heard – that a business is listening, and responding, to their concerns – and that goes a long way.


Elements of effective social care
What are the key elements of effective social care and support that will keep customers coming back – and may make them customers for life? According to the eTailing Group/LogMeIn report, it’s about outcomes, timing/responsiveness, and awareness:

  • The best outcomes and timing include full resolution, efficient turnaround, and a consistently high quality experience.
  • Speed of response time and a sense of urgency are important, and consumers factor that into their communication choices.
  • Customers are tech-savvy and aware – and they’re willing to give new communications channels a chance.

For example, in just the last few years, the HP Consumer Support Forum has become the platform of choice for both consumer and business customers to get answers to questions about their HP products.


Why? Forum customers usually have a distinct issue they want to resolve – either tied to a purchase they want to make, or a product they already have – and they need an answer quickly so they can move on and make a decision. Our ability to provide an easy-to-use platform and respond to that sense of urgency has resulted in many more satisfied customers.


Points to remember

The big takeaways from this research are that the power of social media as a sales and support channel is evident and only increasing – and that ignoring channels or shoppers is dangerous for any business.


After all, the main reasons customers get upset are when a business can’t meet their needs and, more importantly, when they don’t feel as if they’re concerns are being addressed – that the business isn’t listening to them.


Those companies who can take a good, hard look at their current service channels and look for ways they can support customer service any way, any time, and anywhere (such as with social, chat and other online services) will be rewarded with a loyal customer base that is more than willing to spread the word about their products and services.

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