Consumers are increasingly turning to social network sites to solve their customer service issues rather than contacting a company directly, according to a new report.
The survey of 2,050 UK consumers, conducted by YouGov for salesforce.com, found that two-thirds lack the confidence that a call centre would be able to satisfactorily handle their query. As a result, consumers are moving away from traditional avenues of customer service and are turning to the online community for help.
Nearly half (49%) of those quizzed said that a search engine such as Google or Yahoo is now their first port of call when they have a query. 17% said that they would ask for help via social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, which salesforce.com claims is evidence that people are placing more trust in their peers than corporations.
Over one-quarter of respondents said that they had complained about a company in a public forum, while 41% said they would be impressed if a company proactively reached out to them after such a complaint was made.
“There are conversations going on out there involving millions of consumers all sharing their experiences, talking about services they want or need and highlighting examples where their expectations have either been exceeded or weren’t met,” said Tim Barker, EMEA product marketing at salesforce.com. “Customer service should be a part of those conversations.”
Baker added that although call centres traditionally sit at the heart of a company’s customer service strategy they have failed to keep up with the emergence of social networking sites.
“They must now harness the power of social media and embrace the powerful information that can be found online. Companies need to be listening to these networks, knowing what is being said and learning from the wisdom of crowds,” Brown said.
The survey was released to coincide with the launch of Service Cloud 2, salesforce.com’s updated CRM platform. It enables firms to monitor what is being said about them on online communities and engage directly with customers to resolve issues.
“It’s not enough to assume people will find the answers they are looking for,” added Barker. “Businesses need to know if their customers are unhappy, have a problem or need some help. That means listening and responding to them on their terms, whether that’s via social media or more traditional means.”
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