Social Media Customer Service is "Not Living Up to the Hype"

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With a global move to digital and social, you might expect that the customer service industry is on top of fully utilising these channels, but new research has found this is not yet the case.

A study by management consulting firm The Northridge Group of over 1,000 consumers on customer service experiences via various channels, including social media, phone and email, has found that a third (33 per cent) of consumers that approach brands via social media with a customer service question never get a response.

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In addition to that, a quarter (26 per cent) of customers who are turning to social media do so because they're unable to reach a company representative via other channels, and when they do get a response via social for more than 30 per cent of customers this does not meet expectations. In fact, social media has the lowest percentage of issue resolution and follow up of all the channels.

Pam Plyler, executive practice lead for customer experience and contact center management at The Northridge Group, said: "When it comes to customer service, social media just isn't living up to the hype.

"While there are added complexities to managing customer service through social media, engagement should not be considered optional. With the right focus, this channel can be effectively integrated into your overall service strategy."

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Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Sixty-three per cent of consumers have to engage with a brand two or more times on social media before a customer service inquiry or issue is resolved
  • Forty-two per cent of consumers expect resolution within one hour when using social media for customer service inquiry or issue
  • Thirty-nine per cent of consumers say that companies resolve their customer service issues or inquiries on social media within a week or longer
  • Just 3 per cent of consumers cite social media as the fastest channel for issue resolution
  • And only 2 per cent cite it as their preferred channel

Therese Fauerbach, CEO of The Northridge Group, added: "Nearly half of consumers plan to use social media for customer service issues the same or more than they currently do. There are clearly opportunities for companies to provide excellent customer service on all channels including social media.

"Consumers want to use social to resolve problems, but the experience is inconsistent compared to other channels. Social media is a critical channel that companies should leverage to deliver a seamless omni-channel customer experience."