Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Is your business becoming obsolete with customer service?

Allegedly, the way business is conducted has changed more in the past ten years than in the past 50 years – and with constant innovations in both processes and ways of thinking, that progress looks to increase exponentially still.

For some, interacting with companies on social media is the done thing in 2017, and often more preferable than other means of getting in contact.

This reliance on social media has both huge positive ramifications, yet also brings its own unique drawbacks that have people clamouring for the days when writing in was the way forward. But have the more traditional methods of customer service become obsolete – and does this render your business methods obsolete too?

Social Media Customer Service

While a social media strategy comes into marketing a business for promotional purposes in order to raise brand awareness, convey brand identity, and persuade to make a conversion to a sale of a product, it also involves responding to customer service enquiries. The use of social media for customer service means that, in many cases, everyone can see the complaint, others can chime in if they feel the same way, and the company has to be more careful of its responses (or lack thereof), as complaints can snowball out of hand.

Every good PR strategy should also focus on responding to customer service enquiries, be it on Twitter, Facebook or TripAdvisor. But interaction via social media is not always public. As Instapage and others have reported, Facebook chat bots are becoming increasingly popular for customer service too – a development that Facebook has been pushing for since launching the feature in April 2016.

Of course, social media makes it even easier for brands to have complaints levelled at them. Back in the day, if you wanted to complain you had to write a letter. For most grievances, this was too much of a hassle compared to the gravity of the problem, so people didn’t tend to bother. But, with email – and then later the ease of social media – making even the smallest complaints gives consumers somewhat of an unfair advantage over brands. While some complaints are necessary in order to quality check the offering, others may be down to a customer’s personal preferences or nit-picks, and may unnecessarily harm the business’s image.

Live Chat

In recent years, live chat has become the favourite form of dealing with issues – especially those that require more of a qualitative fix than just consumers expressing a feeling regarding a company’s offering. In fact, live chat achieves a 73% approval rating from customers, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone. Live chat encapsulates the benefits of having time to construct the exact query you’re asking that email allows alongside the immediate response that the phone offers. According to research from Ubisend, 51% of consumers want a business available 24/7 while 92% feel satisfied following a live chat.

For example, Betway Casino online offers a live chat service that talks customers through their offerings should they join the site. The live chat here is able to answer queries and acts as a strong way of breaking the barrier to entry created through a customer’s unanswered doubts regarding a product or service. Canyon Bicycles even offers live chat in the language of the country the user is in, to benefit their geographically diverse audience.


Reportedly, 49% of Facebook users like a company page to support the brand that they like, so the more active a brand is on Facebook, the more likely their users will like the page, which enables the company to gather valuable information regarding their performance. The more active they are also enables customers to contact them through their Facebook page in a more casual way, which eliminates the formality of email and phone. In 2015, it was reported that 87% of posts to brand pageson Facebook go unanswered, so the greater the activity on Facebook, the more likely this number will be reduced for each individual brand.

For example, Starbucks replicate their fun and engaging personality when responding to Facebook queries, which they attempt to at a staggering rate. Walmart also offers a reply to almost all queries – both positive and negative – and remain on brand as they would in store when the customers become displeased.


Manning a Twitter account to deal with customer queries is now the norm – especially for train companies, some of whom even use the idea itself to create some PR, such as Southern Rail’s work experience student replying to queries and going viral. 77% of users feel more positive about a brand if their customer service query is replied to, which has seen a 2.5x rise in the past few years. The ease at which Twitter can be replied to, but also the ability for negative queries to go viral has the brand over a barrel when it comes to customer satisfaction.

But, the best facet of Twitter is the reactiveness it allows companies. While broad social media strategies work well, working with whatever is popular on the day works even better. For example, Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” tweet following the 2013 Super Bowl blackout still remains one of the most effective uses of Twitter for a business and gained 13,000 retweets and even some press coverage.

Traditional Methods

So have social media communications made other modes of communication obsolete? The short answer: no. While social media is extremely useful in dealing with customer service, the phone and email offer something that social media doesn’t: seriousness and severity.

For a customer to take the trouble to use the email or phone, they tell the company that the query is genuine and is one that should be dealt with delicately and seriously. Social media comments can easily be swept up with the rest, and often customers have issues that they might not want to air on social media. While having social media strategy is crucial, retaining the old ways doesn’t make a business obsolete, it makes it understanding.