State of Social Customer Service Report 2012

With the explosion of social media prompting a dramatic change in how people interact with each other and brands, customers are turning to social media for customer service, whether you want them to or not. This report looks at how consumer behavior on social media is impacting customer service and marketing efforts for global brands. 

 With the birth of social media, brands have lost the power they once had over consumers. Today, customers hold the reins. They are feeling more and more empowered to share their brand experiences and opinions online, stripping brands of the privilege of a one-sided conversation. With extensive networks of families, friends and influencers, what people share on social networking platforms has incredible reach, impacting the purchase intent of your existing and potential customer base. This means that social care, customer service via social media, has become an immediate imperative for today’s global brands. Customers choose when and where they voice their questions, issues and complaints, blurring the line between Marketing and Customer Service. Brands need to accept this evolution and ensure they are ready to react on all channels.

Key Findings

  • 47% of all social media users have used social care, with usage as high as 59% among 18-24 year olds; usage spans all ages and genders
  • 71% of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response
  • Nearly 1 in 3 social media users prefer to reach out to a brand for customer service through a social channel compared to the phone

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What is Social Care?

Social care is a system for companies to regularly provide customer service through social media platforms. Companies listen at the brand and category levels for customer questions, issues, needs and concerns, and address them through the social channels where existing and prospective customers express themselves.

If a company has a 1-800 number for customer service, social care applies to them. Higher customer satisfaction is immediately tied to the customer’s ability to influence peers across their social graph, with implications for a company’s branding, sales and marketing efforts.

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Social care’s influence is high among online users

More than half of social media users under the age of 45 engage in social care

With 80% of online users in the U.S. using social networks, the pool of customers on social media is expansive. Couple that with an average, across all ages, of 47% of social media users engaging in social care, and you have a huge group of potential customers seeking service online in real time (Figure 1).

FIGURE 1: PERCENT OF SOCIAL MEDIA USERS THAT ENGAGE IN SOCIAL CARE BY AGE GROUP AND GENDER

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Social Care: The Raw Truth

Customers don’t care if you have a Twitter handle for customer service. If they want to complain on your Facebook page or company blog, they expect you to find it and respond on that channel. If you aren’t equipped to do this, consider that…

A single negative customer experience posted in public can wipe out the effect of up to five positive customer messages.

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Social Care’s Influence:

  • 47% of all social media users have used social care, with usage as high as 59% among 18-24 year olds
  • Even among the oldest social media users, nearly one-third (30%) have used social care
  • Social care use is consistently high across gender, income and education levels
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