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Social media customer service lacks speed, attentiveness
Companies must urgently address their social media customer service offerings. Social media is increasingly becoming the channel of choice for consumers looking to air their grievances or ask companies a question. However, as many studies show, companies aren't being as attentive as consumers expect.
Social media is pushing customer service into the public arena. Companies that aren't listening or responding quickly are sending out bad signals to consumers who view interaction with customer service as part of their brand experience.
A new study from Conversocial, entitled, "The Company You Keep: A Sector- and Company-Specific Analysis of Consumer Satisfaction with Communicating with Retail Corporations via Social Media Platforms", surveyed 589 people about their social media customer service interactions. It found that, in the U.S., over half of consumers (55%) said their social media customer service experiences were "disappointing" or "mediocre".
Expectations for a quick reply aren't being met. Almost 30% of respondents expected a reply within the same business day and the same number expected a reply "within hours". A similar number (29.7%) expected a response in less than an hour, of which 16.6% wanted a super-fast reply in less than 10 minutes.
"This research reflects the mixed experiences consumers are having, shining a spotlight on the discrepancies in performance among many companies in the same sector," said Conversocial CEO, Joshua March.
"Bottom line, while traditionally consumers are rarely satisfied completely with customer service, fast and efficient social customer service can quickly change the old paradigm and create a viral effect of consumers actually praising rather than vilifying companies," he added.
Recent research in the UK, by customer interaction management firm Eptica, reveals that, while 26% of British and 31% of French consumers are complaining more now that they have social media channels to communicate with companies, few are getting the response they want.
The 2012 Eptica Social Customer Service Study of 2,000 people, split evenly between the UK and France, found that a whopping 83% of those that complained via social media were unhappy with the response. That's if they got a response at all - 17.5% of those complainants didn't.
"Our research uncovered a real desire by consumers to use the speed and immediacy of social media to interact with companies only to see their requests shockingly ignored," said Dee Roche, global marketing director, Eptica.
"Not answering basic questions is essentially slamming the shop door in the face of potential customers. Social media provides a megaphone through which complaints aired by unhappy customers can quickly escalate. Companies need to put in place a proper strategy for social customer service, before consumers vote with their feet."
In the past few months, the number of consumers in the UK using social media to 'talk' to companies has almost doubled from 19% to 36% in April 2012. Today, 18 million are using social media for customer services purposes, found research by Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research.
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