Facebook Matters To Customer Service

A couple of years ago, most of my conversations with eBusiness leaders about the future role of Facebook and customer service concluded with cautious skepticism: “Why would customers go to our Facebook page for customer service when we have plenty of other channels for them?”   The most frequent verdict was that Facebook might become important to customer service but it wasn’t a priority.

The verdict is now coming in.

And Facebook is important.

The Facebook UK team ran a number of polls recently asking consumers about why they talk about brands and what they talk about.  They found that 23% of Facebook users want customer service and expert advice when they become a fan of a company’s page.

Savvy eBusiness leaders now understand: you need to go to where your customers are.

And if your customers are on Facebook, then Facebook needs to become a higher profile in your overall cusotmer service strategy.

Audio brand Shure recognized an opportunity to go to where its customers are: Facebook. With RightNow CX for Facebook, Shure extended  its customer service reach to Facebook. Customers can find answers directly from a customer support tab on the company’s Facebook page and pose questions privately to an agent via Facebook.

Live chat is beginning to appear Facebook. Nykredit,the largest provider of mortgage lending in Denmark, offers chat via their Facebook page through vendor Netop.

Earlier this year, virtual agent vendor NoHold launched a virtual agent on Facebook for consumer electronics company View Sonic.


I'm not suggesting that every eBusiness leader should put the brakes on their customer service strategies to focus on Facebook. Instead, I highly recommend Forrester's POST aproach. And for those of you with significant customer activity on Facebook, you can't afford to be skeptical any longer.  Consider how you can leverage your existing customer service touchpoints into Facebook. And prioritize what your current or potential customer service vendors have in their pipeline to meet your customers' needs on Facebook.


Facebook vs Twitter vs Google+

Recently, we studied the social customer service offerings of seven top F500 brands (Apple, Best Buy, Dell, DIRECTV, Google, HP and RIM) and found four of these seven companies hadn’t launched any corporate-branded social care activities on Facebook (more information: http://ow.ly/6Ixpz). Results indicated Twitter was the most popular social platform for providing customer support, while Facebook was quite underutilized. With a growing number of brands setting up shop on Google+, it will be interesting to see if this new social network displaces Facebook as a social care platform.

Tabs and apps not necessarily the right approach

Hi Diane, great that companies are beginning to recognise the importance of customer service in Facebook and that you appreciate its importance! However our research has found that support tabs / chat tabs etc are rarely used compared to customers reaching out directly on the Facebook page wall (natively, without a separate application). We found that many companies add support tabs and then ignore the majority of customers trying to speak to them on the wall. So although it's not at all bad to have a support tab like the companies you mention, this cannot be a replacement for having the processes in place to actually respond properly. You can see some of our whitepapers looking at how big retailers are doing at customer service in Facebook here: http://www.conversocial.com/resources#research-papers

It's because of this that our approach has always been to focus on helping companies manage customer service directly via the wall rather than in a separate tab. We did recently consider launching our own support tab (when Facebook removed the discussions tab) but after looking at actual usage and talking to our customers (who include many major retailers) we decided it was not worth it.

Creative Virtual Facebook

Web Self Service is becoming a high priority on Facebook, particularly Virtual Agents. Since many of a companies' customers are on Facebook, it makes sense to give them the convenience of being able to interact with a Virtual Agent directly through the Facebook page, as opposed to having to go somewhere else for answers: