Using social media for customer service. Facebook and Google+ open the doors.

Facebook rolled-out a feature for Asia based admins of business pages to allow them to send private messages with fans writes Jon Russell of  The communication must be initiated by the customer. So it’s an opening for a customer service touch-point first rather than private marketing blasts.

With this move, Facebook is giving companies another email like inbox for conversations with customers. It’s a bit more feature rich than just an ordinary email inbox though because it’s integrated with a fan page. The Fan page can enable messages, discussions, video, applications, etc.

Most companies already list email addresses under the “contact us” section of their internet or eCommerce sites. Will they adopt and allow Facebook as a touch-point for customer service as well? One advantage email has is the ability to use list management tools for sorting, screening, auto-replying, filing, etc. That’s there from years of growth and maturity as a messaging platform. Companies with high volumes of customer interaction may find managing messages within Facebook difficult.

What about other platforms for customer service and interaction such as twitter or Google+? Twitter is already used by many organizations to interact with customers and Google recently announced they were adding features to Google+ Pages as well.

One thing is for sure. Customer service is becoming a puzzle with more pieces. If companies want to meet customers where they are and provide convenient service options then they’ll need to consider more than a phone number and email inbox. Customers have choices about how they communicate and where they see brand information. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and mobile applications are all viable and now very real platforms where customers spend time.

Over the past several years we’ve a large amount of information was published about how marketers and PR groups can use digital media to reach customers. 2012 may be the year where the media and industry thinkers start to publish thoughts on using digital media more for customer service.