Technology has become an inevitable part of our lives. From reminding us of family birthdays, to organising task lists and suggesting our music, we rely on our gadgets to help us get through the day. For the consumer industry, this is no different. Technology has becoming an integral part of the buying process. We use our mobiles to check-in to places, check-out our purchases and browse for products online.

However, when it comes to service, nothing beats real human interaction. Customer Think has recently investigated why, despite all the ease and access of technology doing the work for us, we still demand human interaction. And while the internet provides a great way to communicate information, it still doesn’t quite match up to being able to speak to a real person.

Too often, businesses approach customer service in terms of separating the online from the offline. There are teams dedicated to one but not the other, when in fact, businesses should be looking at creating a ‘dual’ type of customer service experience. There are several opportunities where businesses can be making the most of real-time interaction, after being alerted to a customer’s presence online.

Use social media to interact with customers in real time, not just online, but offline.

Many businesses think that ‘liking’ or ‘favouriting’ a post on social media counts as substantial engagement and leave it at that. But there are more ways you can engage with customers to let them know that they matter. Replying to a post takes it one step further, and you can take another by simply going beyond what’s asked of you and supplying more information or recommendations.

What most businesses fail to do is really listen to what their customers want. By doing so, you can turn an online experience into an offline one. Whether it’s noticing the ‘Happy Birthday’ written in a patron’s message while at your restaurant, or supplying a vase to the guest who’s just been delivered flowers at their hotel room, listening to this information on social media can help you take advantage of opportunities to build relationships with your guests.

You might be hesitant to do so. It might seem like a risk when you have no idea how a customer will react. But take for example a scenario that took place with one of our clients.

A customer posted a photo at the brand store with a handbag they liked but did not purchase. The brand then replied to this post on social media, and offered to buy the bag for her, inviting her back into the store and creating a meaningful relationship with her.

By simply inviting customers back to interact with a real person, you can turn the online into the offline.

Try to imagine your customers as people you can build relationships with, not just one time visitors who happen to stroll on by.

Just because interactions take place online, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be real.

Where the majority of interaction must take place online, it still pays to be genuine. Having a chat section for your site and encouraging customers to initiate dialogue with you is a great way to provide customer service in a convenient way, while letting people know that they are dealing with a real person.

71% of people who have a positive experience with service, via social media, recommend the brand to others.

Good service means happy customers, which in turn results in good word of mouth reputation. People are more than happy to blog or post positive experiences about good service, and in order to achieve this, you need real people behind the computer screens.

However, keep in mind there’s no point setting up brand social media profiles on every network and calling it a day. You have to make use of them. Social media should be a tool for achieving good customer service, not the replacement for it.

See how Local Measure’s social media engagement tool can help you manage everyday interactions with your customers. Try a free demo now.