We can all agree that customer service has changed dramatically over the past few years. The same tried-and-true rules and strategies just don’t apply anymore. And we see that companies who don’t adapt quickly will get left behind. Who is changing the game? The customer, whose tactics, rules and beliefs are different than ever. Here is what you need to know about the new wave of customer empowerment:

Customers are more connected than ever before.

A few years ago, only teenagers felt the separation pangs of being away from their mobile devices. Now, even middle-aged men and women feel this pain. You need not look far to see that everyone is glued to their screen, from the time they wake up until they retire at night. Data clearly shows that consumers now favor mobile over desktop and that time spent on mobile devices is sharply increasing with time. In 2014, mobile surpassed desktop as the leading digital platform, with mobile taking up 60% of total digital media time, desktop at 40%. App usage accounted for 52% of total time spent. The numbers are only rising with time, with an average of 58% growth year over year. In 2015, 80% of Internet searches were performed on a smartphone.

What does this mean for customer care?

Just as easily as customers can reach for their mobile device, they can post on social media about your brand or send a complaint or request through a private message. In the last two years, Facebook was the most used app by a long shot, which is trending to rise. Facebook Messenger was the third most used app last year, with a 31% increase from the year prior. This means that companies, more than ever, need to be on their toes and ready for the next post or the next private message. Being prepared is the key- so that one small customer service misstep won’t turn into a social media crisis. You can prepare your company by making sure your customer service doesn’t start and end with a 1-800 number, that there are various channels whereby customers can reach you: Facebook, Messenger, Twitter and Instagram. Since customers are already surfing these social channels on their own time, these platforms are often where customers turn to first with a customer care issue. That’s why it’s essential to have the right platform in place for a customer care team to be prepared to respond to all types of inquiries, at all hours.

They expect you to go above, beyond and make their day.

The new empowered customer knows they hold the power to influence a company’s delicate reputation. With so much information floating out there on the Internet and especially concentrated on a few social media channels, customers know this power, and oh, will they use it. If one company doesn’t meet their needs, they will simply move on to the next one that does. Or, they will put you on blast first, then move to the next company who can meet their demands. With so many companies setting the gold standard for customer service, they know the competition is fierce and they will use that to get what they want. You can’t blame them.

Michael Hildenbrant, a loyal Sprint customer for 13 years experienced something that changed his mind about the telco company, and it was because customer service on social that the positive change occurred. Michael endured some poor customer service with Sprint, being on the phone for over 4 hours. He was an inch away from switching providers, when he vented his frustrations on Facebook. He was surprised to receive a personal phone call from a customer care rep who “went above and beyond” by righting the wrong that happened- calling stores, supervisors and making sure the customer was happy. It was the rep’s act of exceeding expectations and treating Michael as a human being, that maintained his business with Sprint.

They want to communicate with a real, living, breathing human being.

Technology has made our lives better and easier is so many ways, but it will never replace a real human connection, this is obvious.What is also obvious is that customers prefer talking with a real person rather than an automated system. How many times have you called a customer service line and given up because you couldn’t reach an actual human? You can only press “0” so many times before going a bit crazy.

So we know that firstly, customers prefer to interact with a person rather than a bot, and once they get that real, live person on the other end, they want them to act like a person and not a robot. Having someone read off of a script can be even worse than talking to a machine. Personality and humor go a long way in pleasing the new empowered customer.

Dollar Shave Club, another Conversocial client, exemplifies the use of personality and wit to win over customers. They respond to every single Facebook post, whether positive or negative. They have two Twitter handles, one of them dedicated to member support. And the company’s fun tone, while not taking themselves too seriously, is what attracts customers. Last month, someone named Mike tweeted that he was getting married in a week and needed a new razor. He tweeted to Gillette, Dollar Shave Club and Shick Hydro. See Dollar Shave Club’s witty response below:

This brand is an example of how a company with personality wins customers and loyalty. Their responsiveness, willingness to upserve and their down-to-earth nature makes customers happy.

Keep in mind

Customers have learned that they can demand a lot in this new realm of customer care, where service is quick, competition is cutthroat and brands aim to please. The new empowered customer is mobile, with insanely high standards and a desire to connect on a human level with the person at the other end of the line (or the screen). The customer holds the power, but with the right tools and the right attitude, brands can be equipped and ready to deal with this new wave of customer empowerment by exceeding expectations and leaving even the most demanding customers speechless.