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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : July 29, 2014

UK businesses failing to consistently and effectively employ social for customer support

While traditional forms of communication continue to play a major role in the customer experience, people now expect to be able to use multiple channels as they switch between devices and locations. However, as a new report from Webhelp UK has shown, many businesses are failing to deliver consistent and effective customer support across all their channels.

by Helen Leggatt

Telephone and email remain the most popular channels for customers to communicate with companies. A survey of 2,000 adults in the UK found that two-thirds (62%) prefer to make complaints by email and 46% by telephone. Eighty-four percent prefer to make general enquiries by telephone, falling to 69% among under 35s and 44% expect companies to operate a web chat facility (just 13% do so currently).

connected_customers_thumb.pngSocial sites have become another channel via which customers like to be able to communicate with businesses. In fact, two in five customers use multiple channels to resolve a single enquiry. But many businesses are failing to monitor and react via social channels. Webhelp's "Connected Customers" report, which utilized secret shopping sessions, found just 15% of the UK's top businesses bothered to respond to Tweets from customers and 64% took longer than one hour to respond.

"Our report clearly demonstrates that the face of customer engagement is constantly changing," says David Turner, Webhelp UK CEO. "Although traditional forms of communication still play a predominant role in conversations between companies and their customers, they cannot be offered in isolation. People now expect to be able to contact companies through multiple channels; switching between them at their convenience."

A recent study from Eptica, also conducted in the UK, came to similar conclusions regarding businesses ineffective use of social media as a customer contact channel. Their Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that, while email was the best-performing channel (63% of questions were responded to), and websites were also successful (60% answered), just 33% of queries left on Twitter were being answered effectively.

"The retail sector has been revolutionized by the expansion of digital channels, meaning retailers have to answer more questions, across more channels, than ever before," said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-founder, Eptica. "However, our study shows that, while some retailers are leading the way, many are failing to deliver fast, accurate responses and consistency across channels."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: customer service, customer support, email, omnichannel, social media

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