54% of all Australian businesses will adopt social media as a customer service channel for the first time in 2011, a new survey involving 80 IT and customer service organisations at the RightNow Asia Pacific Summit has shown.

The survey showed 71% of respondents were investigating the use of Facebook, and 53% were looking at incorporating Twitter into their customer service program. A further 42% also plan to launch a company branded customer community as a new way of driving customer engagement.

David Bass, speaking for RightNow, tells Marketing magazine that the survey showed 35% of organisations surveyed are already using social media for customer service, meaning just 11% of the respondents don’t think they’ll be using social media in 2011.

The survey also found that 82% of organisations currently provide customers with phone support, 88% provide email support and 77% provide web support. 35% of organisations also provide web chat facilities. 

“The survey’s results are a real wake-up call for organisations of all sizes that don’t respond to new possibilities for enhancing their brand image and striving for market leadership,” said RightNow’s Asia Pacific- South’ vice-president Brett Waters. “Providing a mobile experience, having a compelling Facebook presence, responding to your customer’s tweets, creating online communities and remaining at the forefront of customer service innovation will be the hallmarks for the organisations that succeed in satisfying the needs of individual customers in 2011 and beyond.”