If you've ever had a complaint or simply wanted to speak to the customer service department of a company using their phone service, you're no doubt aware of the frustration sitting through endless menus and electronic voices  before finally getting through to the right department.

For Nissan customers, this might be about to change. Nissan North America is considering moving some of its call center operators out of phone banks and onto the internet, using services such as Nissan's Facebook page to speak directly to customers.

"Currently, our social media staff can handle the volume of questions and problems that are showing up on Web sites," said Erich Marx, director of marketing communications at Nissan, responsible for social media. With more and more people using web-based customer contact points though, the company will need to rethink staffing requirements. Nissan thinks that questions and complaints over its Facebook page could double over the next year.

The reasons for the paradigm shift in customer contact aren't surprising: customers no longer want to wait on the end of a telephone line for minutes on end when they could send an email, leave a Facebook message or even send an SMS message, and get back to it when it suits them.

Dealing with complaints becomes all the more important over social media too - a complaint left on Nissan's Facebook wall can be seen by quarter of a million fans, so needs to be handled sympathetically and professionally. This is reflected in Nissan's company policy of not removing negative comments.

Of course, if a complaint is handled well in the public sphere it reflects very well on the company too - a satisfied response will be seen by all.

What do our readers think? Would you prefer the old-fashioned method of speaking to a representative over the telephone, or if you wanted to ask Nissan or other companies a question, would you use their Facebook and Twitter outlets?

Let us know in the comments section below, or over our own Facebook and Twitter pages.

[Automotive News via Cnet]