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33pc who use social for customer service get no response: study

Research showing that 33 percent of consumers who contact brands on social media with a customer service question never get a response suggests that companies are not meeting consumer needs even though social is a commonly used channel, according to The Northridge Group.

Twenty-six percent of consumers choose social media for customer service when they cannot reach a representative through another channel, according to the study. The findings raise questions about companies’ skills in social-based consumer relations given that social has the lowest percentage of issue resolution and follow-up among all channels.

“In terms of customer service, social media just isn’t meeting the expectations of consumers,” said Tamara Solarich, chief marketing officer of the Northridge Group. “Companies can no longer put social media customer service on the back burner.

“Companies that are able to provide a seamless, robust omni-channel customer service experience will see a distinct advantage in the years to come,” she said.

Preferred channel
Just three percent of consumers cited social media as the fastest channel for issue resolution; only two percent cited it as their preferred channel.

In other findings, 63 percent said they have to engage with a brand two or more times on social before a customer service inquiry or issue is resolved. Forty-two percent of consumers expect resolution within one hour when using social media for customer service inquiry or issue.

Meeting consumers’ needs across channels.

And 39 percent of consumers said that companies resolve their customer service issues or inquiries on social media within a week or longer.

In the survey, 1,000 consumers were asked to provide feedback on customer service experiences via various channels including social media, phone and email. The survey results have a margin of error of three percent.

Twenty-six percent of consumers turn to social media when they can’t reach a rep through another channel – the highest of all reasons – indicating that many use social as a last resort. The phone is by far the most popular contact channel for urgent issues, with 77 percent of consumers calling companies with urgent issues or inquiries.

Sixty-six percent said the phone is the fastest channel for issue resolution, followed by online chat at 15 percent, and email, 10 percent.

“To improve customer service experience satisfaction rates, marketers should develop a robust omni-channel strategy and partner their efforts with those of a strong, knowledgeable customer service team,” Ms. Solarich said. “In addition, response times and resolution rates should be improved, especially in terms of social media customer service.

“Always keep in mind, however, that customers do not want a wrong answer quickly,” she said.

The findings follow a recent report which suggested that brands must expand their mobile strategy to ensure that customers feel cared for amid a blurring of the lines between customer service, information technology and marketing to avoid damage to bottom lines.

The study by Millward Brown produced for Mblox, found that a 20 percentage point gap exists between how businesses and consumers rate customer care. The findings point to the need for marketers to adopt a multi-channel approach to customer care with mobile at the center.

The study, “Identifying the care gap in business-to-consumer engagement: A study of perceptions, reality and consumer preferences in mobile communications,” found that 86 percent of consumers are open to communication from brands through their mobile device, yet only 58 percent of businesses use mobile to engage.

Investing in improving email and SMS will deliver the most significant results, because these are consumers’ preferred modes of mobile communication, the study found.

Blending tactics
Combining mobile tactics is a way for brands to address the lack of a perfect way to communicate through mobile technology. An individual may prefer text messages from a utility company about a power outage, but a push notification about a local deal from a favorite retailer. A text message offering coupons at 3 a.m. will not be appreciated if it wakes up the customer.

Showing social’s low customer-service rating.

“Brands who are proactively engaging with customers on social media will find the most success in amplifying a positive brand image,” Ms. Solarich said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York