Social media opens up a world of opportunity for businesses in terms of connecting with their publics, furthering their brand, and now engaging to resolve customer service issues. I wrote a piece about the subject on the WebiMax blog back in April reviewing research that looked at how little larger e-retailers actually connect with customers on social media to resolve issues, to the detriment of their brand and the loss of business and positive branding opportunity.

Now, a new study of 1,000 US consumers from American Express World Service dives deeper into the customer service issue and how customers act online when they have problems with their purchases. These figures are quite telling and suggest that businesses have a real opportunity for more than just branding and reputation management on social media. The research points to the fact that increased engagement through social media can actually push more growth and spending from customers.

Survey Says...
Looking at the survey responses, 17% used social media for a customer service issue at least one time during this past year. So what do businesses need to do? Offer great customer service. Most telling is that those customers are willing to up their spending by over 20% with brands that offer such great service. Further, 80% of survey respondents indicated that they went to social media to engage with a brand over an issue but ended up never making a purchase because of a lack of quality service.

Additionally, customers engage with each other about these issues. The survey showed that 48% of those respondents that used social media for customer service, extended messages of praise for businesses that did provide great customer service. Also, 43% of them reached out to other customers to get answers about how to get better service. In short, customers are seeking this information, and it should be made abundantly clear on e-retailers' websites about how customers can engage with them on various social platforms to resolve their issues. SEO consultants and companies can assist businesses with how to disseminate this information both in terms of on-page and social page content.

The opportunity is real for businesses to achieve several important goals. The positive branding, PR, and exposure is clear as well as the proactive reputation management (that guards against viral negativity that can catch on quickly with social media), but it can immediately drive more conversion, greater sales. That is the main takeaway for businesses (including all types, exclusive e-retailers, e-retailers with physical stores, and just physical stores) as they all can benefit. But, it is especially relevant for those with just an e-commerce platform or those with both online and in-store shopping as customers are already comfortable seeking them out online.