Consumers don't like using social media for customer service: [24]7

Consumers don't like using social media for customer service: [24]7

Summary: The only reason customers engage with a company through Twitter or Facebook is because existing customer service channels "suck", according to [24]7 CEO PV Kannan.


Contacting enterprises on social media is a last resort, not the preferred engagement method, for disgruntled customers, according to predictive customer service company [24]7's CEO PV Kannan.

[24]7 offers cloud-based customer service, and manages more than 2.5 billion customer interactions annually for enterprise companies. It uses data analytics to improve customer service.

Social media has become a popular customer service tool for many Australian organisations. Telcos, in particular, are increasing their presence on Twitter and Facebook, answering a torrent of customer queries through those channels.

But this is not indicative of consumers preferring social media over calling up companies for customer support, Kannan said.

"There is actually no proof customers want to engage through social media; it's just that existing channels suck," he said. "Say, if I'm in front of a branch, I have no interest in shouting outside about how much it sucks unless I can't get into the branch.

"You really don't want to handle this conversation in public."

Kannan noted that successful companies don't rely on social media, because existing communication channels for customers, such as online portals or call centres, are already effective enough. He recommended that enterprises improve their existing customer service resources first, before addressing it on social media.

He also recommended against having numerous customer service channels to minimise confusion.

Optus and Lenovo recently adopted [24]7's Assist live chat offering, which uses big-data analytics to predict customer intent in real time. Both are long-time customers of the vendor.

Optus is weaving the offering into its online sales platform.

Topics: Australia, Social Enterprise

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • I don't get it, honestly

    Social Media is the only chance to make a company stick to its words. Actually it's a shot in their own foot making it all in public.
    Each and every customer filing a complain about a product poses a serious threat to the company when not handled respectfully. Things then to get viral really quick nowadays.
    A single seriously annoyed customer that insists on his rights can damage the reputation of a company quite easily. Add an unfriendly or even hostile customer care center employee and what you get is a perfect marketing disaster.
    • the other side

      is that in reality, the customer isnt always right.
    • No, no threat...

      ...but it feels so. Twitter, which is the biggest locus for those customer complaints you mention has a half life of a tweet in HOURS. Meaning, if it isn't seen within a few hours of posting, it's..well..gone.
      The cases where you see something go viral in social customer service are so rare, you have a better chance of being hit by lightening than creating one, or being a company the victim of one.
      Seriously, the research is starting to contradict your conclusions. People listen to their face to face real world contacts and are learning to put social media complaints from almost complete strangers in the "ok, well, I don't know this guy" bucket. That said, in industries like hospitality (hotel and restaurants), there IS an impact. Most others, no.
  • Not So Sure

    I am in the process of wrting a post on using sicial media for customer service and am finding an overwhelming amount of support for social media as a custiner service channel from Authoritative sources. It seems obvious to me that a live chat company would seek out such strong evidence against social media which has to be a viable competitor.

    I agree with EnticingHavoc that comoanys offering customer service and putting themselves out there on social media do leave themselves vulnerable to attack, and stupidity of staff with access to the account. However unreasonable customers, those intending to damage the brand without good reason and immature staff are usually weeded out and dealt with. I have even found examples of customers (genuine ones) defending a brand from attack by an abusive user on Facebook.

    If you get it wrong as a business, it can indeed be a disaster. But get it right and you might just hit gold.
    • Poor research is why

      Laura, those "authoritative" sources are almost certainly using data collected through survey data, which doesn't accurately reflect what customers actually do, unless you write the right questions. I'm a former social science research, and looked a even the most reputable companies doing research and they are all making huge errors, about customer preferences.
      There's a secret to this, and that's that research is easily biased by company agenda. Unless you have "authoritative" research that is peer reviews, and where there is no "payoff" for convincing people social is better for customer service, you have nothing.
      • Hands Up

        Thanks for your reply rbacal. I agree, and it has been shown many times over that bias is easily applied and widely used, on most occasions flouting not only the rules but the whole idea for introducing reviews which can drastically skew data. That's no secret, it is widely documented.

        The data I used is from the likes of eConsultancy, digital marketing agencies, and government surveys. I am not suggesting that this makes the information infalliable; may I ask where you suggest I look so I may report as accurately as possible?
  • Hopefully companies will "get it"

    I've been saying exactly the same thing about customer preferences for social media. Or actually that the only reason customers say in surveys they want to use social media, is they've experiences the horrors of every other possible channel, and have not yet realized it will be no different in social media.
    I hope this article gets some traction, because the millions companies are investing into social customer service are going to be wasted, if customers finally realize that's terrible too.
    It's odd. I've been saying this stuff for at least three years on (now in process of closing), and in my articles on customer service ( I've come to the conclusion that only the losses of millions will finally convince companies about what customers REALLY want, and it has nothing to do with channels of contact.
  • You don't choose whether your customers use social for support

    "He recommended that enterprises improve their existing customer service resources first, before addressing it on social media."

    Certainly companies should improve every channel they have if they recognize that there are problems with them, but the whole point of social is that you don't get to pick and choose whether your customers use it as a channel. It's not email. You can't just opt in.

    It's there. The conversation is there. The majority of businesses have a page/handle so you'll be getting customer service queries regardless of whether you then respond to them. But the fact you're receiving them on social means you should respond to them.

    I appreciate the volumes are less but that's not to say people don't want to use it. I think it's very useful in cases where you're chasing an order, for example, or want to check issues with transport where you know they will respond. Here in London the train companies advertise in the station for you to Tweet them questions/issues - that's great.

    These so called "successful companies" wont be successful for long if they refuse to get involved.
  • Consumers don't like using social media for customer service

    it sucks i will not and have no plans to use any of they you can email but do not think you will get a replay you won't