We all know the value of social for marketing. Can it also improve the customer experience?

Business has widely embraced social media as a marketing tool.  A study by eMarketer found that almost 9 in 10 businesses with 100 or more employees were engaged in such practices and that it would only increase.

It’s no wonder that companies flock to market products and services on Twitter, where tweets can reach many of the 319 million monthly active users (MAUs); link on to LinkedIn, which reports 106 million MAUs; or seek face time at the far-larger Facebook, where MAUs rose by 18 percent last year to 1.86 billion. These media can be very powerful for marketers. But businesses that see social as only these channels and only for sales are missing an important opportunity. In fact, these and other digital channels have the potential to transform customer service.

Customers already have embraced quick and easy communication through messaging channels as a painless way to get information and stay in touch.  Twitter has even become the way a sizeable number of people get their news.  But messaging apps also include features like file sharing, payments and video/audio chat that companies are starting to use to communicate with customers and respond to inquiries.

Then there’s the much-maligned touch-tone approach to customer service. Listening to a voice read through a series of seemingly endless possibilities —“press one for billing, press two for…etc.” can feel outdated to customers used to summoning information instantly.  But companies can improve on this by switching to a visual form of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which allows customers to use a mobile device to access a touch screen that can be dynamically altered to reflect a customer’s specific situation, preferences and service history.

Companies also can employ augmented reality (AR), where a graphics overlay can be placed on a video stream to highlight information.  For example, customer service agents can apply AR over a customer-supplied video to help troubleshoot a stalled appliance. Similarly, a roadside assistance agent could augment a customer’s video of an engine or dashboard to help to identify the cause of an auto breakdown and send proper help.

In a world of instant communication, customer services need to be good and they need to be quick.  Digital tools can make that happen.

Next week, we’ll discuss expanding the customer service role

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