Social Media Still Lags as a Customer Service Tool

A new survey finds that people still like pick up the phone and talk to a live human when they have a customer service issue, despite the growing use of social media technology.

Customer service software firm NICE Systems said it surveyed 1,206 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 to gauge their satisfaction with various customer service channels.

What they found was that people across age groups overwhelmingly prefer the more traditional ways of resolving problems with companies and organizations.

For instance, 88% of NICE’s respondents said they preferred to speak with a live customer service rep over the phone. While 83% used website self-service, they still liked having the option of turning to a live human as a next choice.

The company found that social media, live chat, and Smartphone app use has doubled since 2011.  In fact, 73% of survey respondents said they have used multiple contact methods in the past six months to resolve a customer service issue.

However, social media still has a lot of catching up to do in terms of effectiveness: while social media channels were used to successfully solve a problem 29% or the time, traditional phone contact has a 69% success rate.

But what about today’s tech-savvy Millennials? Surprisingly, the 18-35 age group still prefers speak with a live rep via phone or use website self-service when resolving customer service issues.

These results aren’t that surprising, given the current state of social media use by companies. While FAQs and other “self service” online methods can lead to a speedy resolution to a problem, many other social media tools used by companies are a bit gimmicky. (For instance, “live chat” that turns out to be nothing more than you talking to a computer.)

Until companies fully integrate their social media channels within their customer service function – and offer immediate response by empowered humans – people will still “cut to the chase” by calling toll-free customer service numbers when self-service fails.


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