Customer Support Can't Keep Up With Rise of Social Media

Companies are expanding their social media and mobile presence at a rate that far exceeds their customer support abilities, according to a report by Constellation Group.

As a result, contact centres face a "coverage gap", according to the report's author, Constellation contributing analyst Elizabeth Herrell.

"Many companies have social media presence on sites such as Twitter and Facebook and create mobile applications but have not set up the infrastructure to deliver the same level of customer support as their more traditional communication channels," wrote Herrell.

The report noted a "huge rise" in the number of customers who now use social networking sites and mobile commerce for business transactions, and said customer service in those areas was often isolated and not keeping pace."Without integrated customer service support for social media and mobile commerce, customers will grow frustrated with their social communication experiences," Herrell stated.

"It is important for companies to fully embrace these newer channels by taking the lead in not only addressing the marketing aspects, but also in developing integrated support to ensure customers receive consistent treatment and quality problem-resolution over their social media and m-commerce communication channels."Customer support teams were "scrambling" to adjust to requests from social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and from mobile commerce applications, Herrell wrote. However, properly capitalising on these channels created "powerful" opportunities for businesses, considering Facebook's 600 million and Twitter's 200 million users.

"Failure to do so will result in customer fallout as social sites' community of interests can spread negative comments quickly," she wrote. "Conversely, companies that proactively support their customers' use of social and mobile apps often find they generate higher customer loyalty and brand awareness."

Companies that expanded their social networking and mobile interaction could increase customer engagement, monitor feedback, generate sales, cut advertising costs and offer location based services, she wrote.

Herrell advised companies to better monitor competitors' social networking and mobile tactics, and to make customer engagement a priority.

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