By Maegen Clemens

So long are the days when businesses have just a telephone or letter to answer when responding to customers. Now, companies have to monitor thousands of messages communicated on social media sites to protect their brand and reputation. It is important for them to research what people are saying about their products and use that information to improve in the future.

Over the past several years, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms have given consumers a powerful voice. According to a mediabistro infographic, 62 percent of consumers have used social media for customer service issues, but 76 percent of the users polled say they would be more likely to use these tools if they better understood how they worked.

In 2009 musician, Dave Carroll, saw his Taylor guitar tossed by United aircraft handlers and he posted a YouTube video about his customer service experience. Within four days of the song going online, United Airlines’ stock price plunged by ten percent, costing shareholders $180 million. To date, the video has reached over 11.5 million hits and this experience has led him to create the customer gripe site, gripevine.

In a recent article from Econsultancy, brands are actively recruiting customers into online communities to help them develop products, give feedback and report issues. HP uses Facebook as a customer support forum and permits unlimited character usage. This option allows complex questions and answers to be discussed. Another top brand, Best Buy, encourages all 180,000 of their employees to use social media. One tool they created was @twelpforce, where employees offer tech advice in Tweet form.

Do you turn to social media for customer service? If so, how was your experience? Did you find the companies responded quickly or not at all? If you are a business, have you implemented a strategic social media plan to protect your brand and reputation? I welcome you to share your comments here and let us know what you think of social media changing customer service.








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