Heather Younger: Use of Live Chat or Social Media for Customer Service: One More Way to Make or Break Your Brand!

In 2011, an American Express survey found that Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences and 16 people about poor experiences. Today, just five years later, people may still tell an average of 9 people about good experiences, but if they have a bad experience, they can now tell the entire world via social media. We have all seen the  word “viral” tagged to a personal story about bad customer service more often than a good one. At the same time, the millennials and Gen Z  who interact primarily through digital communication are becoming your customers and will expect you to be available to them via social media. So the question about social customer service to your business is “Are you ready?” This week’s guest post from Heather Younger, Chief Customer Fanatic and Founder of  Customer Fanatix highlights the opportunity for businesses to get it right or be left behind. Learn more about Heather and Customer Fanatix at the end of this post. 

social media

I recently read that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone. I am not sure how true and up to date this statistic is, but it sure did speak to me.

Just the other day, I had a terrible experience with a highly acclaimed web hosting company. I was not in the situation to be able to call them to resolve my account. So, I used my fall back of clicking the Live Chat button. I thought that they would perform the function I was trying to accomplish, or at least, help me get it done. I was very wrong. The representative on the other end was completely stumped with my request and had to walk me through some complicated steps to get to a partial resolution. Then, I needed to call back six separate times to finally get my issue resolved. I was frustrated, to say the least. Everything is good now, but the process to get here was full of friction. They really just needed to put processes in place to take care of me the first time.

The only reason I did not pull my account is that I put so much time into making it look the way I wanted. The pain of starting over stopped me in my tracks! While I set out to accomplish a task on my terms and the way I needed to do it, I discovered that some of the best companies just do not have the people or processes in place to adequately service customers in nontraditional ways.

According to J.D. Power, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media channel for their customer service needs. According to Twitter, 60% of leading B2C companies are responding to about 60% of Tweets directed at their service accounts. Even more compelling is that over 95% of consumers say they are influenced by what other people say about companies on social media.

I have to say that I am very new to social customer service, but then, most of us are. Previous to the bumpy journey described above, I was a big fan of web chat for my service needs. I chose chat, since I often have a crazy schedule that include kids screaming in the background.

This week, Apple launched its first Twitter account for customer service. It will use this account to address common support issues. Although none of us really know why they are deciding to make this move now. I am going to be watching from afar to see how this move bodes for this big brand. Will this move continue to put them at the top of highly regarded brands for service or will it wreck it?

Some brands seem to have mastered the social media customer service puzzle.

This issue is so important and the opportunity for Twitter to capitalize on this movement is so great that they put together a playbook for businesses, regarding social media customer service. It is quite good. I imagine that many businesses looking to use social as another means to meet customers where they are, or at least, where they choose to be will enjoy this tool more than once.

After experiencing the friction that I did with one company’s chat blunder, I have to say that I am leery to go the social route for service requests as even going with the chat option turned out to be disappointing. In the end, if customers cannot get what they want to get done the way they want to get it done, those brands who were unable to deliver offline will fall short in front of the world.

For the brands that have been successful in social customer service, they may inspire reluctant customers to give it a try. The biggest selling point is that the personal interactions inherent in social customer service can continue to drive positive relationships with customers.

Positive relationships drive excellent customer service.

Given the speed at which consumers of all ages are taking to social media to get their issues resolved, customer experience and marketing professionals like myself will need to quickly increase our understanding of how this impacts brand loyalty over the long haul.

I would love to hear from anyone brave enough to take the leap and tell their story.

Be Well and Good Luck Tweeting!


Chief Customer Fanatic and Founder, Customer Fanatix
Heather Younger is a customer experience consultant, trainer and speaker with proven expertise in building Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee cultures and acting as catalyst for customer-driven cultural & process improvements. She is a frequent author on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, a blog contributor for Huffington Post and a member and Certified Customer Experience Professional with the Customer Experience Professional’s Association. She is also a Net Promoter Certified Professional.

Heather truly believes that the most effective way to transform customer’s experiences is to transform organizational leaders into people who better relate to and empathize with their teams, use their team’s voices to inform customer needs and partner with their teams to drive cultural and customer-focused organizational improvements.

Heather has a bias toward action, and she enjoys consulting leaders, training teams and speaking to audiences on topics of importance to customers and employees alike.

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Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service

8 responses to “Heather Younger: Use of Live Chat or Social Media for Customer Service: One More Way to Make or Break Your Brand!

  1. Hi Heather, your experience demonstrates how the overall reputation of a company can be damaged by poor service on a particular channel, showing the need for consistency across every channel. Yet our own research found that companies seem to be adopting a ‘uni-channel’ approach, focusing on specific channels rather than delivering great service on all of them. For example, one retailer answered a question on Facebook in 6 minutes – then took 152 hours to respond to the very same query on email. More on this lack of consistency in our recent blog http://www.eptica.com/blog/how-good-experience-offered-uk-brands

    • Eptica, this is a very good point, This makes me think of a kitten running around after a string or a moving toy. He keeps trying to grab it, but may have to move around forever. His strategy could be not to jump for it until the right time. I think that organizations who jump at social media for service as a way to “keep up with the Jones’s” have the wrong idea. As you so smartly point out, if you cannot deliver consistently, then you might as well stick with where you can offer consistent service. I am going to read your post now. Thanks for commenting! Heather

  2. Social media is the big one I’ve seen ignored. It can lead to big big reprecussions, like going viral for terrible CS. It’s funny though, because it is usually the easiest one to take care of, and the most visible to the public.


    • hryounger

      Jack, thanks for responding. I agree about the public nature of social media feedback. All feedback needs to be addressed. I have found, too, that organizations look at social CS as a replacement to just getting the basics right. First comes first, but they need to be prepared to handle their online feedback as well as feedback on all other mediums. Thanks again for chiming in

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  4. Great article, Heather. I agree with Jack there. Social media is very much accessible to most customers but is often neglected by some companies. I also run to social media for support half expecting that they’d be a bit more interactive. It disappoints me a bit if they get back to me after half a day or even after a few days. But more have maximized on this and it’s been a huge help. I think the problem now is how to properly manage them since I know for sure more customer concerns would come in through these channels.

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  6. It definitely looks like customer service interactions via social media are set to become more prevalent. Maybe big brands like Apple are just starting to realize that now and that’s why they’re making the leap?

    I came across a staggering statistic recently. According to Forrester, 80% of consumers are now using social to engage with brands. That’s crazy!

    I totally agree that we need to take note of other brands wins and losses in this area. I know from reading one of Jeanne Bliss’s recent blog posts that Nike is doing a spectacular job of running their customer support channel on Twitter. It might be a good account to keep an eye on!

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