Customer service is dead - long live 'social customer service'!
Thanks to the likes of Twitter and Facebook, the days when businesses could get away with dismissing customer complaints are gone.
Nowadays, consumers want an instant, two-way conversation carried out 'in real time', rather than a delayed, wordy, 'company speak' response.
Once companies - or even not-for-profit organisations - get over the shock of having to defend themselves (in some cases, daily) against harsh criticism in the full glare of the 'cyber spotlight', they'll probably find that the benefits of social customer service are worth the inconvenience.
Customer Service in The Cloud's guide below, will help you understand the potential impact of social customer service on your business.
The modern customer wants - demands - instant satisfaction when it comes to getting a response to a question for more product or service information, or for a problem to be solved.
If companies don't get back to them quickly, customers are likely to vent their feelings among people in their networks who may in turn (depending on the issue), pass it on to their contacts.
To ignore or dismiss a legitimate customer concern is to put a retailer's reputation at serious risk of being forever tarnished.
People can easily access hundreds of alternatives on the internet.
'Power' and control is gradually slipping from the hands of even powerful retailers, to their customers who now have the means - and the will - to hold them to account when they fall short of expected standards.
There was a time when people were forced to wait day - even weeks - for a company to respond to a complaint by email or letter.
With 'social customer service', those days are long gone, and companies who want to maintain a good reputation and increasing sales, have to be transparent, open, honest and actively customer-focused in a way they were never expected - or wanted - to be.
Because of its immediacy and occasional relentless intensity, social customer service may be seen as a headache by some companies.
To ease some of the pain, I've included an infographic from referral automation service providers, Ambassador.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.