07 August 2014
Customers complaints via social media are increasing. Here's how to ensure your business doesn't fall short on customer expectations for response times.
The time it takes for businesses to respond to customer queries on social media varies considerably, but the overwhelming majority aren’t meeting customer expectations – or worse, they’re not responding at all. We examine why it’s important.
A recent conversation on Twitter has provided the inspiration behind today’s blog. We tweeted about an infographic called 10 surprising social media facts. We highlighted one – that 53% of users who tweet to a brand expect a response within the hour. We were slightly alarmed by this fact (yes, we admit we didn’t know it) because while we aim to respond to questions and complaints as quickly as possible on social media, we don’t always reply within the hour. However, judging by the responses to our tweet and other research below, we’re not alone.
Research from The Social Habit concurs with these findings. Although it was a lower percentage, 42% of social media users said they expect a customer support response within the hour. Jay Baer of Convince and Convert took this one step further and found that 57% of customers expect the same response time at night and at weekends as they do for normal business hours.
No one in our Twitter conversation said they expected a response in an hour, with timescales ranging from 24 hours to seven days, depending on the nature of the enquiry. However, there was a universal opinion that if a business doesn’t respond, the customer will look elsewhere – in the words of @Christinekorda “I’m a true believer of letting my wallet do the talking… or walking”.
The reality is that businesses are falling short of customer expectations. According to Zendesk, while 92% of UK customers say the speed of a response is important, only 35% say response times are good or excellent.
Simply Measured has been conducting a Twitter study of the top Interbrand 100 companies (their list of the best global brands) on a quarterly basis since 2012. Their results also indicate that there is room for improvement. In its 2013 results, only 10% answered within the hour, although 87% answered within 24 hours.
However, results from the first quarter of this year found improvements. For the brands with dedicated customer service handles, e.g. @AmazonHelp, the average response rate was 60%, up from a mere 42% in the 2013 study. However, that still means that on average, 40% of tweets to a Twitter customer account aren’t being answered at all. While companies shouldn’t aim for 100%, as some tweets may not be relevant to respond to, there’s clearly room for improvement.
According to this KISSmetrics infographic only 42% of consumers expect a response to their email within a day, compared to 50% of Twitter users. This isn’t particularly surprising given the instant nature of Twitter, plus the fact that these enquiries are in the public domain means companies are likely to want to respond to these quicker.
The research above has been conducted on large businesses that have dedicated customer support staff to deal with these enquiries. Smaller businesses are unlikely to have this, but there are still things you can do to help you respond in a timely manner, while making sure it doesn’t take up too much of your time.
While we’ve had a Bizspace Twitter account for a number of years, we’ve recently expanded this by encouraging our centre managers and sales team to join Twitter (after training of course).
Our staff have taken to this with great gusto and are using the platform as another way to communicate with customers and other local businesses. We'd love to connect with you. To find your local Bizspace account, take a look at our team members list.