Since the launch of Facebook and Twitter, the customer service industry has changed irrevocably. For one thing, the term customer service is now described more accurately as ‘customer engagement’ and its importance within the enterprise has risen substantially. This boom can be both a blessing and a curse.

Telephone and email are still the most popular way for customers to interact with companies, but Facebook, Twitter, forums, live chat and blogs are very quickly taking a bigger share. Problems arise when companies put these channels in place without the necessary back-end preparation. It may only take five minutes to set up a Twitter account, but planning how it will be used effectively requires a lot more thought and planning.

By engaging with all of these channels to please their customers, ill prepared companies are setting themselves up for a fall, often public – as they soon become overwhelmed and unable to respond to enquiries in the appropriate manner.

Social knowledge = Social power

The solution? Embrace it now and importantly, understand how to engage with it. Handled appropriately, the multiple social communication channels can improve the efficiency of the support team, greatly increase customer satisfaction and generate new sales opportunities.

According to a survey by Forrester Research, 91 per cent of decision makers said elevating their customers’ experience was a ‘mission-critical’ goal. Customer loyalty is increasingly hard to maintain, which is why every occasion represents an opportunity to build the relationship.

The customer is your number one priority

Is the customer always right? If you want them as a customer, then yes. Their query or complaint is an opportunity to make them into a champion of your company. Consider it from their perspective. While their requests may arrive in different ways, and often via multiple channels, the organisation should respond quickly, this will ensure consistent communications, reduced business cost and most importantly keep the customer happy.

Accept responsibility

Every business with a customer support function has issues with its products or service. Analysing the purpose of customers contacting the company will show the frequently asked questions. Time spent reviewing these and formulating early responses will save time and money. As a ticket is created for a common problem, a uniform answer can be sent back to the customer directing them to this help function.

Hello, is there anybody there?

Customers who can’t resolve their issue through a self-service option or email need to be able to reach a human. This is key to a successful customer service and always will be. Live support can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is one of the most effective ways to ensure customer satisfaction.

BYOD: Your staff have their own devices, accept that too

Whether officially sanctioned or not, many employees already make use of their smartphones and iPads to access corporate software and solve customer problems By making the customer service system accessible from anywhere frees them from only doing support while at their desk. Response times go down and support is more flexible, all benefiting… the customer.

Embrace and get social

Embracing social media within the standard customer support offering is imperative to business success. In order to avoid being overwhelmed, all communications channels should lead to a single point for response and management. Social media is not a silver bullet, nor the only solution for customer support. But there is no denying the power and impact it can have on your business as a part of your multi-channel support offering.