French people are becoming more and more conscious of companies' after-sales service quality. However, companies still haven't taken full advantage of the power of social networks to change their approach to customer service.
Customer service quality is consumers’ main concern, according to the results of a study carried out by BVA-Viséo Conseil: 84% of French citizens polled say that this is the factor which most influences their view of a company. Some 75% also say that if they are let down by a company’s after-sales service, they will think twice before using that company again, and they complain of endless waiting time and inappropriate responses to their requests. But couldn’t all this customer dissatisfaction be sorted out by implementing customer relations solutions on the social networks? Well, this may true in a perfect world. However in practice 80% of all consumers still prefer to use the telephone to pass on their requests. "Few companies are making enough of an effort to offer such quality tools," Alex Peyrière, founder of Edolone, told L'Atelier.
Committed and responsive Community Managers
"This resistance to using Internet platforms will fade away over time," predicts Alex Peyrière, adding: "But companies ought to be getting in step with the public at large and adopting efficient online service solutions such as an after-sales service module hosted on Facebook, for example". He explains that it’s a question of market maturity. Using online platforms has the advantage of being more responsive, more customised, and offering a greater degree of flexibility. Above all, this way of communicating is free and avoids waiting time, a major bugbear for the French. Users’ questions are handled by Community Managers, whose job it is on the one hand to highlight the various products available under the brand, and on the other to inform and assist the customer.
Bottom line is the top consideration
So what’s the reason why companies are so reluctant to go ahead? According to Alex Peyrière, it’s first and foremost return on investment that’s holding them back. "Business people need to be convinced that in the end they will make money. It’s this same cost reduction logic which drove them to outsource their after-sales service call centres," he underlines. "Basing after-sales service on Facebook means that it’s brought back inside the company. Customers will be better served, and so more satisfied with the company," he argues. Sophisticated bots which generate instantaneous generic answers are also being looked at. Similar after-sales service mechanisms also exist on Twitter, particularly in the United States, although penetration in France has remained very low. "They are not as easy to use and customers don’t need a duplicate channel if the Facebook model is working properly," concludes Alex Peyrière.