While social media gets the most attention for customer service conversation, are they the best channels for customers to solve customer service problems?

According to customer service professionals, communities/forums are the most effective social channel for customer service, and 40% of customers using this often overlooked form of social support are resolving their issue.

Why are communities/forums the most effective channel for social support? It’s largely because they are a popular hangout for knowledgeable brand advocates.

  • 64% of brand advocates write about brands online to offer advice.
  • 92% of online consumers trust recommendations from brand advocates,

The power of online customer communities

90% of customers go to a company’s Website before calling or emailing customer service. Additionally, the current trends continue to show solid growth in customers turning to online communities for support resources.

  • 39% increase in online community use for customer service since 2010.
  • 30% increase to HP customer support forums from 2012 to 2013.
  • 40% of customers using an online community for service resolve their issues.

What does this mean? Peer-to-peer communities/forums are an ideal social channel for consumers to find quick, effective support. And the results of what customers are saying are astounding. The beauty of utilizing online communities for customer service is that once they’re up and running, customers play a key role in helping manage the community, the work isn’t entirely dependent on employees.

Since search engines highly rank content found in online communities/forums, the solutions provided by a brand’s community can help countless customers down the road. For example, HP’s customers using the HP Support Forums have generated 120 million additional page views to the solutions provided by its peer-to-peer community. The benefit is real and more and more organizations are turning to online communities as a viable customer service contact channel.