Michael Fauscette of IDC wrote a wonderful article about the effect of social media on customer service in Social Media Today. What I liked most about the article was this diagram that clearly shows the effect that social media has on customer service.
“There are essentially two “new” types of channels for the development of the conversation. The first steps outside the enterprise and into the social cloud to use rapidly growing social networks like Facebook and real time conversation vehicles like Twitter to interact with customers “when, where and how” they choose. As more and more customers become comfortable with these online public communities they grow in importance in reaching customers effectively. There’s a secondary use case for real time conversation tools like Twitter that has emerged from Best Buys that uses Twitter, a broad group of employees and a backend system that aggregates the Tweets into a single web page, which helps the process scale and at the same time creates a way to leverage collective intelligence to get the best answers to customer questions….
The second channel is growing up around public or private customer communities. The concept is to create a customer community of mutual assistance that provides the first level of “support” for customer questions. The idea is actually similar to the social cloud concept but provides a concentrated group of brand / product focused customers in a network rather than a broad public social network. The concentration yields the opportunity for knowledgeable customers to share their expertise..This a rapidly evolving area of the new social business and one that can provide very high ROI”