nielsen social care statsCompanies are investing more time and money into creating and maintaining a social media presence—and if you offer any sort of product or service, that presence should, without a doubt, include customer service.

Compelling stats from Nielsen’s State of Social Media 2012 report show that today’s consumer not only uses online customer care channels—they’re coming to expect them, too.

And if you’re not prepared to give your customers what they want, well, chances are good they’ll head elsewhere. Need a little more convincing? Consider these stats:

  • One in three social media users prefer social care to contacting a company by phone.
  • Social media users are most likely to comment on or ask a question about a company’s product or service on Facebook, whether on a company page (29%) or personal page (28%).
  • On average, 47% of social media users engage in social care.

That last stat gave us considerable pause—when you think about it, nearly 50% of all social media users is a pretty astounding number. And it’s one that, in our opinion, will only grow in the next few years.

In short? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to offer customer service on your company’s social channels. It’s up to you whether you create customer service-specific platforms and profiles, although we recommend steering clear of too much segmentation, especially at the risk of your overall brand identity and growth.

Instead, make sure you’re keeping a close eye on your social channels. Do you have a process in place that helps you read and respond to customer service queries? Do you have off hours during which you don’t respond? Do your customers have this information? We’re certainly not advocating that you chain yourself to a computer 24/7 so that you can respond to any and all customer questions and comments. It is, however, a good idea to get a process in place (and to make sure you have the required staff and resources) so that your customers know you’re listening and that you’re here to help.

“Customers choose when and where they voice their questions, issues and complaints, blurring the line between marketing and customer service,” according to Nielsen. “Brands should consider this evolution and ensure they are ready to react on all channels.”

Are your customers, like those surveyed in the Nielsen report, increasingly turning to online channels for customer service?

Image by Cory Doctorow via Creative Commons