There are countless well-documented reasons why people don’t like calling customer service centres, but the most recent one to be added to the list is that they simply find it an inconvenient way to get an answer to a question when there are so many alternative methods available.

Evidence suggests that failing to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers with social media now being favoured over the traditional phone call. Millennials, in particular, have driven this change in communication and, accustomed as they are to an instant response, now expect their query to a contact centre to be answered within just 60 minutes.

This is prompting a transformation in how brands interact with customers. But not every brand. Despite the shift in customer communication choices, some brands currently don’t have the capacity to support social media interaction in their contact centres. Research shows that, in fact, more than half of contact centres have no capacity for social media engagement and large brands, in particular, are redirecting queries through other channels, such as the phone – which puts them right back at square one.

Even if a brand is reluctant to abandon the phone as its primary channel for supporting customers, there are many advantages to investing in automated fixes for popular complaints over social media. This will not only lower operational costs but it will also speed up complaint resolution. There’s no getting away from the fact that the majority of contact centre agents are over extended and this is leading to a frustrating wait on the end of the line for far too many customers, which only serves to reduce their loyalty to the brand.

This is where smaller companies can use social customer service as effectively as larger brands with the budget to invest in contact centre resources. In fact, more agile brands can much more easily adapt to support fast and economical social media tools. This has the potential to quickly put them in pole position in the contact centre responsiveness stakes. There is a compelling financial imperative too since social customer service actually costs less than a phone call (£0.78 vs £4.60) and figures indicate that it delivers 20% to 40% more revenue per customer.

According to Constellation Research, one European airline calculated that due to increased customer lifetime value they could estimate a whopping 1899% ROI on their social media customer service and engagement strategy. The airline noted that “it’s not expensive software to run and after quick training of our service agents we saw other savings in reduced call volume”.

Given that smaller brands are more often than not playing catch-up with their larger counterparts, the current gap in social customer service provision offers a chance to turn this on its head. They can be proactive, reaching out to customers and inviting them to engage via Twitter or on Facebook, making it clear that their chosen channel will be fully and quickly supported.

The most effective way to do this is through a customer experience social platform; software that is designed to keep a social customer service team running smoothly. A platform of this kind helps businesses engage with customers across multiple social media channels, picking up mentions of the brand and automatically alerting on certain topics so they can be appropriately directed within the customer service team. It will monitor response times and identify peaks in response volume so agents can be moved around to help meet requirements.

Getting to grips with social customer service allows smaller players to be omnipresent. They can highlight the fact that they have all social bases covered when, in reality, they are simply letting their software platform do the heavy lifting. Even the smallest of companies, with just one person overseeing enquiries and engagement can give the impression of complete social control with the help of dedicated technology. The other benefit is that, because monitoring is being done in real-time, any issues that arise can be quickly resolved before they turn into larger PR problems.


By Susan Ganeshan, chief marketing officer at Clarabridge

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