A utility can run but it can’t hide from a disgruntled customer. Actually, utilities are hiding in plain sight on social media networks. According to Nielsen’s The State of Social Media Report, customers are increasingly turning to social networks for customer support, or as Nielsen calls it, “social care.” I can attest that this approach can work, when other communications channels — like calling customer service on a phone — break down.
Twitter to the Rescue
Just recently a good friend and business colleague moved to another house just a few miles from where he had lived before. It seemed simple enough to have his phone and cable service move with him.
But, no. AT&T became his only option for phone service and Cablevision waffled on whether it could supply service to the location where he now lived.
After getting the run-around from various phone reps, he called me to vent. Being a social media aficionado, I told him I’d check to see if AT&T had a customer service account on Twitter.
Voila, they did, @attcustomercare. Below is my tweet stream that resulted in AT&T calling him and fixing his problem. Score one for social media and AT&T!
Customers Turning to Internet For Help
This first chart from the Nielsen report shows that 47% of social media users engage in social care — meaning they look to companies for help when they have a problem. I saw for myself how effective that could be as my friend was going through menu hell trying to find a phone rep who could help him. Utilities, in particular, are staffing their Twitter accounts 24/7 to respond to urgent customer requests
This next chart shows that of those who seek social care on social networks, a whopping 70% of them do so every month.
The Nielsen study also disclosed that one in three social media users prefer social care to contacting a company by phone. As you might expect, 37% of Millennials prefer using social media. That number will only grow as the younger generation, who live for social media, come of age.
As the Nielsen report points out, “Social Care is transforming customer service. Social media has emerged as an important channel for customer service, with nearly half of U.S. consumers reaching out directly to brands and service providers to voice their satisfaction or complaints, or simply to ask questions.”
These numbers are a wake-up call to those companies that still see social media as something they need to do and not as an opportunity to build their brand and provide sterling customer service.