Companies are effectively using social-media tools for customer care

The popular communications technology has helped companies quickly and inexpensively respond to customer complaints, answer questions and tailor products and services. It has supplemented current customer services, easing the load on call centers and expensive mailers that most consumers abhor. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and online software services such as LiveOps, Salesforce.com and RightNow Technologies are all are being used to improve customer service, retain users and gain a competitive advantage.

As more companies effectively use social-media tools for customer care, it also is becoming easier to shift customer-relations resources to the U.S. and feed into the fledgling “homeshoring” trend. Home-based workers have become de rigueur among employers to take advantage of better technology, gain productivity from employees no longer tied to long commutes and leverage the expertise of local workers.

For many, call centers are out of the question — too frustrating, with long waits — and e-mail is too slow in an era of instantaneous online communications.

With so many social-media tools available, and consumers increasingly using them, this raises the question: Are call centers, direct mailers — even e-mail — things of the past for customer care  Though invaluable, social media is just a fraction of a company’s customer-service arsenal.

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