Online service common in businesses

High public awareness of social media enables use of platform to serve customers, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 4:12am

Using the internet to provide customer service has become a common tactic for businesses, a survey shows.

The poll of 500 people, commissioned by the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence, found 71 per cent had received customer service online.

"Online services provide the customer with broad services such as answers to inquiries and basic information," said Pauline Chan, an executive director of the association.

"They complement the traditional [channels] of customer service, such as phone lines, which are used for more detailed and personal services."

The potential for online customer service does not stop there.

According to the survey, a high level of public awareness and usage of social media has allowed businesses to provide customer service through social media.

Electronic products and food and beverages were the highest-ranked industries in the survey for providing customer service through social media.

Facebook and YouTube were found to be popular platforms for customer service representatives to interact with customers.

"The mobility of social media via the mobile phone has allowed customers to obtain information at any time and location," Chan said.

Andrew Lam, an associate director of Ipsos, which conducted the survey, highlighted the usefulness of the social media platform for customer feedback.

"Social media allows customer comments to be compiled into a structured data format, allowing 'best practices' to be recorded for future reference," Lam said.

Buston Chu, the chairman of the association, warned that while social media might be convenient, there were a few drawbacks.

"Customers using platforms like Facebook are also able to comment and trade opinions about the company's products and services in a short period of time," Chu said.

"Negative comments by customers can influence public opinion.

"Social media is a neutral platform that should be used effectively and properly. If not utilised properly, it will ruin a company in a short time."