Social networks have become a very important part of consumers’ lives. This statement, which is often repeated in all articles that analyze how social networks have changed the lives of consumers and how they have modified social relationship structures, is not, by repeated, less valid or less necessary to remember. Social networks have had a direct effect on consumers and what they say and do. Now we share everything, we say everything and we tell everything, or so it seems, and, above all, we expect conversations and relationships to be different. We take for granted that our friends will share photos of virtually anything on social networks and we also assume that brands will be there all the time waiting to receive our messages and determined to answer them.
And that’s where a point of tension (and a very high one) is created between brands and consumers. Some do one thing, but others expect much more from them. Or what is the same: the expectations that have on what will happen in social networks are very high (after all, they have introduced elements such as the immediate and the speed in the day to day of consumers) while what happens is quite far from that reality (brands are not able to be so immediate and so fast).
This is creating a fairly high focus on the relationships between consumers and brands. On the one hand, and although studies have shown that social networks are not the best scenario to achieve quality customer service, consumers continue to address social scenarios to connect with brands. On the other hand, brands are wasting time making social networks not fast customer service channels.
This has just been demonstrated by a study by Conversocial, which indicates that despite all the expectations of consumers they do not stop increasing while the actions of the brands are still not up to par. The weight given to social networks and the importance they receive is also increasingly high among younger consumers.
Social networks, first point of contact
Thus, for members of the Y or Millennials generation, both the internet and social networks are the main preferred source of contact with the brand. 24% of these consumers choose the internet or an online chat as a preferred source of customer service and another 24% choose social networks. The third favorite source is electronic messaging (from email to text messages), which is chosen by 21%. Following them are the smartphone apps (19%) and only lastly the phone is positioned (12%).
It is true that the telephone wins (and in some cases widely) in the other demographic groups. The Silent Generation (those born before 1944) choose it as the first option 90% of the time and baby boomers (1945 to 1960) in 64%. Generation X members keep that option 29% of the time. Despite this, we must bear in mind that the youngest are increasingly using the network and, above all, that they are the ones creating the trends that then mark the rest of the market.
In addition, these data must be added that the mobile phone is becoming an indispensable part of the life, in general, of consumers, who use it for practically everything and who are very active in social networks in these specific scenarios. And when more assets are in social networks on their mobiles, more potential exists for them to use it to connect with brands.
In that environment, moreover, more movements are taking place that make things much more efficient in matters of customer service. Consumers want brands to be increasingly present in scenarios that were previously very limited to private life. Instant messaging tools, such as WhatsApp, are spaces that consumers use in a massive way and in which they are increasingly willing to have brands present, in order to obtain fast and efficient customer service, even if that means lose some personal space.