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May 16, 2012

Customers abandoning call centres for social networks

Research reveals that the percentage of customers choosing to use social media as their main source for customer service is increasing rapidly.

By Tineka Smith

Customer service bell
Photo Credit: A.T.

The number of customers engaging with brands through social media has doubled from 19% to 38% in the last eight months, according to research by Fishburn hedges and Echo Research.

The study says that 68% of respondents said they enjoy the "voice" social media sites, like Twitter give, them when dealing with big brands.

65% of those surveyed that social media is a better way to communicate with companies than call centres.

"Many people are currently enjoying the VIP treatment from brands on social media. As millions more catch on to this great route into traditional customer service channels, the challenge for brands will be maintaining the same level of service," said Eva Keogan, head of innovation at Fishburn Hedges.

"Over the coming years, will Twitter become the next call centre? We are urging brands to think about this now, as there are some clear and simple ways to use these new customer service channels to great effect."

The growing preference for social media sites for customer service may mean that the relevance of call centres in the future will be less prevalent.

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"64% of British adult consumers are digitally dormant when it comes to social media interaction with businesses," said Keogan. "While it by no means suggests the call centre has had its day, it does imply that the scales will tip towards millions more people adopting social sites as another channel of engagement, depending on their preferences."

Sandra Mackleod, CEO of Echo Research says that companies using social media to respond to customers are seeing positive results.

"Social media is taking off as real people are responding, rather than callers being stuck behind automated call routing and messaging," said Sandra Mackleod, CEO of Echo Research. "The best companies are training and releasing their staff to manage this in a professional and responsible manner to often great results. Welcome to a new and exciting world we call social business."

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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