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More than a third of British consumers have already used social media to interact with companies. This is nearly twice as many as in August 2011, when 19% of consumers had used this method.

It's estimated that 18 million customers are using social networks to speak to firms directly. And whether they use it or not, 40% of people believe social media improves customer service - six times more than those who think it doesn't (7%).

This information came from research by Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research, who interviewed 2,000 consumers as well as 'digitally pioneering' brands - which included clothes shops, supermarkets and banks.

The head of innovation at Fishburn Hedges, Eva Keogan, said social media could help people get "VIP treatment from brands".

She also asked: "Over the coming years, will Twitter become the next call centre?"

thinkbanking already help their customers by communicating with them in a number of different ways.

thinkbanking's managed account helps customers manage their cash, splitting it into two accounts for their essential spending (or 'bill money') and their disposable income (or 'spending money') - so they shouldn't be left short when the bills come in. If customers have any queries or questions, they can ring a dedicated Money Manager during office hours.

If customers prefer the social media route - as many seem to - thinkbanking have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed too. Here, they can keep up with what thinkbanking are doing and get news and information about the account.

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