When you're trying to contact a customer service representative for a particular company, the odds are good that you need help right away. That means that you need to be able to get in touch with customer service quickly. But with all the different channels of communication you may have available, it can be difficult to determine which is best.

Choose the Route That Works Best for You
Most companies will direct your to call for customer service, with a few preferring to have customers use some sort of email or web form to help. But though the company in question has a preference for how it provides customer service, you don't have to use it. You should, instead, focus on the strategy that's going to get you the best service in the least time. For many companies, that means using social media.

By sending out a tweet mentioning your problem with a specific company or posting to that company's Facebook page, you can often get a fast response from someone who wants to resolve the problem to your satisfaction. That's because social media is a public forum: anyone looking for information about the company can see your complaints, which is bad for that company's business. It's in a company's best interest to get the problem solved as quickly as possible.

Public Relations Nightmare
When Sir Patrick Stewart, of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fame, tweeted that he'd "lost the will to live" due to a 36-hour wait for Time Warner to install cable at his new apartment, it was retweeted over 1,800 times. That represents a huge problem for Time Warner. That single tweet will likely make many potential new customers for the company look for an alternative. You may not be able to have quite such a dramatic impact, and companies are taking online influence into account for how rapidly they respond to customer service requests over social media. But the public nature of such a post will still work in your favor to get you a faster response than through a non-public channel such as the telephone. Companies are well aware that even if you don't have the reach of Captain Picard, your friends and family will still see the issues you post about, as well as how they resolve the problem.

Increasing Numbers Turning to Social Media
According to a 2012 study by NM Incite, 47% of social media users in the U.S. use the platform to get customer service. It's becoming more prevalent, to the point that most large companies have a social media team that can at least direct inquiries to where they need to be. Almost one-third of users reported preferring to reach out to companies they need service from via social media, rather than the telephone, and this number which is likely to grow. Most users seem to have a more positive customer service experience using social media, and 71% of social media users who get great customer service said that would recommend the company they use afterward.

Providing customer service through social media hasn't been perfected yet: companies are still sorting out the best ways to deal with issues such as providing lengthy advice in a forum limited to 140 characters, as Twitter is. Customer service through social media is rapidly evolving, however, and most companies seem committed to providing help through social networks.

The Bottom Line
If you haven't already, consider using social media to reach out for customer service, at least to organizations you know are already on Twitter or Facebook. You may be pleasantly surprised at how good your customer service experience is. Of course, if you're facing an emergency and don't receive a rapid response, you always have the backup option of calling or going through the company's other preferred channels.

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Tribune Media: An Activist Investment Analysis (TRCO)

    Learn more about the breakup of Tribune Company, once a powerful newspaper and broadcasting giant, and the role of activist investor Cliff Robbins.
  2. Stock Analysis

    PepsiCo: An Activist Investment Analysis (PEP)

    Read about the nearly two-year public feud between activist investor Nelson Peltz, head of Trian Fund Management, and iconic soft drink maker PepsiCo.
  3. Stock Analysis

    Hologic: An Activist Investment Analysis (HOLX)

    Read about a health care company that attracted activist investors Carl Icahn, Barry Rosenstein and Ralph Whitworth at the same time.
  4. Stock Analysis

    Air Products and Chemicals: An Activist Investment Analysis (APD)

    Learn about the productive, and uncommonly friendly, activist investment made by Bill Ackman into Air Products and Chemicals.
  5. Stock Analysis

    3 Obscure Twitter Accounts Making Money Off of You (TWTR)

    Learn how Twitter accounts that share quotes or information, such as @HistoryInPics and @Notebook, make money from their audiences.
  6. Investing

    5 Up and Coming Social Media Startups

    Although the days of Facebook's dominance aren't close to being over, here are some new creative platforms gaining traction on the worldwide web.
  7. Investing News

    The 4 Most Expensive Company Campuses

    Discover some of the most expensive company campuses in the world, why they are often designed so elaborately, and learn how this affects workers.
  8. Stock Analysis

    The Top 5 Entertainment Penny Stocks for 2016 (SIRI, ZNGA)

    Learn more about what types of businesses comprise the entertainment industry, and discover five entertainment penny stocks for investors to consider in 2016.
  9. Investing

    How Digital Payments Will Change Commerce in 2016

    The way we transfer and spend money is constantly evolving, and 2016 is poised to expand digital payments like we've never seen before.
  10. Economics

    Governments Ask Tech Giants to Join War on ISIS

    In the US and Israel, governments have asked their respective nations' tech industries to help in the war against ISIS.
  1. When did Facebook go public? (FB)

    Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) went public with its initial public offering (IPO) on May 18, 2012. With a peak market capitalization ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How are joint ventures regulated in the United States?

    Joint ventures are a very specific type of business arrangement. They can be organized in several different legal structures, ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How long does it take to execute an M&A deal?

    Even the simplest merger and acquisition (M&A) deals are challenging. It takes a lot for two previously independent enterprises ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do a corporation's shareholders influence its Board of Directors?

    The 21st century has seen a rapid increase in shareholder activism, such as the general awareness, involvement and influence ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What protections are in place for a whistleblower?

    Whistleblowers can play a critical role in ensuring the compliance, safety, honesty and legal fairness of governments and ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some types of financial netting?

    Whenever two parties in any financial relationship square up or consolidate their accounts with one another, it is called ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  2. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  3. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  4. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
  5. Dark Pool Liquidity

    The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
Trading Center