By Matt Price, General Manager, Zendesk

With the “always-on” Generation Y becoming the world’s most important economic force, companies have no choice but to rethink their customer service strategy. That’s because the Gen Y voice is a very powerful and extremely ubiquitous thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels that enable them to be a united front. As a result, companies can no longer communicate with its customers in a vacuum and expect more traditional communication channels, such as phone calls and emails, to cover all of its bases.

Still wary?

Here are a few compelling reasons why businesses need to embrace today’s social customer:

1. Social media has set the expectation for near-immediate response.

Companies that don’t react quickly run the risk of letting a bad situation get out of control when thousands of followers start commenting on incidents, which then may even attract media attention. Even waiting a couple of hours to respond to an angry customer on Twitter or Facebook can cause the kind of outcry that risks taking down an entire company -- or at the very least, opens the door for your fiercest competitor to step in and start luring your customers away.

2. More powerful ways to court customer loyalty.

The airline industry is an excellent example of an industry sector that has not only recognised the buying power of this generation, but also has embraced their use of social media. Customers who follow their favorite airline on Twitter or Facebook and will be notified of contests, charitable activities, flight delays, and much more. Some airlines will even allow customers to rebook a cancelled flight via Twitter.

3. Embracing social media is easier than you think.

Many businesses assume engaging with customers via social media will put a drain on resources and require too much time. With today’s unified customer service solutions, companies can easily monitor all communications in a single place making it easier to manage inquiries regardless from where they originate. In fact, not only can companies be responsive on social media, but also it is easier than ever to be proactive in communications, making for happy, well-informed customers.

4. Social media can be the best PR tool your business has ever seen.

When a customer is happy, its single voice on social media can quickly reach hundred if not thousands of people. Do something right and the world will know. You’ll cultivate evangelists who praise your brand without much prompting and will often rush to your defense in the event something does go awry. And, that’s more powerful than almost anything you can do to help your brand.