Imagine buying a box of cereal from the grocery store. When you get home, you discover that somebody else has already opened the bag inside. Gross, right? You bring the cereal back, ask a customer service representative to exchange it—and you’re all set.

Ecommerce businesses can’t offer that same face-to-face resolution process, but people still expect a seamless customer experience. Providing customer support through your ecommerce website, phone, and email is a great start, but customer service should enhance the customer experience as a whole, which means you must meet your customers where they are: Social media.

Social media reaches 75% of all people online—and those people are shopping online. A whopping 76% of social media users have purchased a product they saw in a brand’s social media post. As social selling is on the rise, ecommerce brands must think more critically about their social media customer service strategy. Here are some of the most important reasons why social media customer service is essential today.


1. Customers Expect It

Since people can shop via social media, they consequently expect to receive customer service through social media. That follows, right? Why would you use one platform to purchase a product and then a different one to get updates on your order status?

Microsoft research indicates that 67% of consumers who use social media to interact with brands for customer service expect a response within 24 hours. While most people expect a response, 47% of US consumers also have a more favorable view of brands who do take the time to respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media.

Unfortunately, brands respond to only half of the messages they receive through social channels. That's playing with fire because neglecting to respond to customers’ social message can lead to a 43% decrease in customer advocacy. Those numbers are illuminating. By simply responding to social media customer service queries, your ecommerce brand can make a significant, positive impression. Social media is, well, social. Customers are people, and people don’t like to be ignored.


2. Customer Connection

Most ecommerce brands don’t have the benefit of engaging with customers face-to-face, so they have to maximize any one-on-one time they can get. Building customer loyalty is one of the most important steps for any ecommerce business. That’s because, among other reasons:

  • Customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20-40% more money with those companies than other customers.
  • Seventy-seven percent of consumers are more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media.
  • Ninety-six percent of consumers feel customer service is an important factor in deciding which brands they support.

As mentioned before, customers want to connect and engage with the brands they support online. The numbers indicate the most-engaged customers on your social media channels spend more money than their less-engaged counterparts. Those people do not want to feel ignored by brands. Sprout Social research found that 50% of consumers would boycott a brand over a poor response on social.

As an ecommerce brand, you want to connect with your customers to increase loyalty and your bottom line. Your customers want to be loyal—you just have to earn it.


3. Brand Growth

Face it, it’s pretty cool when brands you follow respond to your mentions or answer your questions online. Customers love knowing that their favorite brands are listening and that they care enough to respond. When customers love your brand, they may become valuable brand advocates, and you want as many advocates as possible.

Ecommerce brands thrive on consumer support. Seventy-five percent of people say they’re more likely to post something positive about a brand that takes the time to connect with them online. In addition, 71% of consumers who experience positive social media customer service are likely to recommend the brand to others. Considering 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from friends, every brand advocate can mean more money for your business.

Social media is one of the best word-of-mouth advertising channels to ever exist. Providing positive customer service through social media can build an army of brand advocates, each with hundreds to thousands of followers just waiting to become paying customers.

4. Bad Service Has Consequences

Just as social media has the power to improve your brand recognition and support for your business, it can be used against you if you’re not careful. After a poor experience with a brand, just 30% of customers are likely to recommend your brand. That’s not ideal but it’s also probably not going to cripple your business.

What may cripple your business, however, is the fact that 45% of consumers will share bad customer service experiences via social media. Nobody wants to be the subject of a major customer service gaffe, but social media makes it all the more likely that your customer service mistakes on social media will blow up in your face. Social media is delicate and few ecommerce businesses can survive the bad press that comes from something like Bank of America’s Twitter automation fiasco during the Occupy movement.


The Bottom Line on Social Media Customer Service

Social media has evolved from a place to connect with friends into a place where you can also connect with, shop at, and get help from brands online. Ecommerce brands must take special care to provide outstanding customer service through social channels because customers expect it—and because it can be a huge boon for business.


Written by Eric Goldschiein, editor and writer, Fundera. 

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