Mobile Apps Better Than Social Media for Customer Service

Over the holidays, I had a less-than-savory experience flying home from a visit with my family on the West Coast. My brother and I were stuck in line waiting to check our bags for nearly three hours.

Someone had apparently scheduled five fully booked flights all to depart within an hour and a half of each other. The resulting bottleneck caused nearly an entire 747’s worth of people to be rescheduled. While in line, my brother created a Twitter account expressly for the purpose of complaining to the airline on social media.

The gate agent made it pretty clear that the only way to get a “real response” from the company was to call or email them with a complaint. So I did.

I got a travel voucher, and my brother got some damage-control tweets after the social media manager woke up and had his coffee. My brother also got a travel voucher after he emailed the company later.

Customer service via social media seems to be the kind of thing companies looking to be hip with the kids want to develop, but in my experience (and according to a recent survey conducted by NICE and BCG) it just doesn’t work all that well.

The wait times are too long (33% of respondents agree) and it’s hard to accomplish complex tasks (30% of respondents). Also, if you do ever get on the phone with a customer service rep, you have to start over from square one (27% of respondents).

The study found that while the percentage of people using social media for their customer service needs has decreased since 2013, more people are using apps for that purpose.

Not every company needs a mobile app, but every company needs an effective means of communicating with both happy and disgruntled consumers beyond a digital interface.

Besides, there’s no way way to replicate good customer service from a social media account. It’s like designing an ad campaign to target one person. I don’t think companies should try this.

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