@angrycustomer: Please Text Me at 1-800-XXXX: Moving Social Media Support Private

Posted by Taylor Haney on Wed, Jul 30, 2014

Even though our social media theme ends tomorrow we still have a few more guest blogs to share with you! This post by Meredith Flynn-Ripley, CEO/Co-Founder of HeyWire, takes a look at how to enhance customer service through social media and other innovative tools.

Meredith Flynn RipleyMeredith Flynn-Ripley, CEO/Co-Founder of HeyWire, a leading mobile messaging company and top 5 Boston App Publisher, is a broadband and mobile veteran with over 20 years of experience including CEO of Stargus and Into Networks; as well as executive positions at RoadRunner and Ogilvy & Mather Interactive.

In recent years, social media has evolved from being a “one-way” platform for companies and brands to project their recent news and updates to becoming a defacto customer support channel, where customers are conversing with the brands they use — either publicly praising their favorite brands, or just as easily venting their frustrations as they seek a solution.

And as customers have taken to Twitter and Facebook looking for support, companies have responded – with leading brands often devoting significant time and personnel resources to monitor and respond to these complaints.

However, while social media has become a legitimate channel for customer support, challenges still remain in managing the platform. First, it’s a very public forum — any complaints are there for the world to see, which may not be in the best interest for both the company and the customer, and is certainly an inhibitor for a segment of customers. Secondly, despite the best efforts of leading brands, many complaints and questions are still going unanswered.

In fact, according to Martiz Research and research highlighted in a recent Forbes article, “70% of customer service complaints on Twitter go unanswered.” Many companies and brands are struggling to manage their social care channels and handle the overwhelming number of conversations taking place.

This begs the question, are there other ways — complimentary channels in an Omni-channel strategy, which can help brands manage customer care that starts from their social presence?

An emerging support channel that’s a natural bridge from social is live texting – adding text to 800 numbers for live text conversations with support reps. LiveText caters to the growing group of customers who prefer texting as a communication vehicle over voice. According to our recent HeyWire Business survey, “more than 50% of customers want to communicate with customer support via live text.” As the preferred method of communication, texting is an easy and intuitive transition from social media, since more and more customers are accessing Facebook and Twitter from their mobile devices — “189 million Facebook users are mobile only – or approximately 15%,” according to a recent study by Buffer.

Based on this, companies are starting to add two-way live texting to their customer care channels. It allows brands to privately respond to that particular customer and situation, and grow the relationship in their preferred channel. Text is a powerful, immediate communications medium, and as more consumers are able to get the text support they want today, it has the potential to dramatically improve overall customer satisfaction.

So, while for the near term, businesses will not be able to avoid the occasional public lashing from an angry customer, text provides an opportunity to move the majority of customers down a better path.

Bottom line, social is an established channel that will continue to grow, but by adding the ability to take the conversation private, it will grow social even faster.

When an irate customer tweets at you, the last thing they want is an apology and a toll-free number to call. They turned to social in the first place instead of going the less immediate voice/phone call route. Now imagine responding to that same tweet with an apology and the same toll free number, but with a “Text us” in front of it. Now you’re speaking the language of your customers.