Affluent customers want service on social media

By Gadi Benmark and Liz Harrison

To attract and keep high-income customers, companies need to turn to social media for customer service.

Answering customer service questions over social media can be fast and effective. It’s also what the wealthiest customers want.

When companies debate what importance to assign to customer service using social media (aka “social care”), our recent research finds that the wealthiest customers use it the most—57 percent among those earning more than $200k, and 56 percent among those earning $150-200k (compared to 43 percent for an average social media user).

The wealthiest consumers also prefer social care to phone, and even in-person customer service—48 percent for the $200k+ segment, and 29 percent for the $150k-200 segment.

PreviewImage_Exhibit_1

Despite this evidence, many companies that cater to the wealthiest customer segments either avoid social care altogether or don’t take it seriously enough. These companies tend to push responsibility down to either community managers, who often don’t have a deep enough understanding of the company's offering to provide helpful answers, or to line reps in call centers answering queries in social media in their spare time without adequate training.

To counter the risk of alienating wealthy clientele, senior management should focus on three areas:

  1. Designate subject matter experts from across the business who have responsibility for quickly responding to customer issues and fully solving problems through social care
  2. Develop processes and protocols that allow those on the front line to contact these experts rapidly
  3. Set up cross-functional teams and provide incentives so that designated experts and front line staff spot and solve underlying root causes of affluent-customer service issues.

This originally appeared in The Economist Lean Back blog