Tag Archives: social media customer service

Social Media Customer Service: Brands Respond More On Twitter

A new report by social customer service software provider Conversocial looks at how social channels are being used to connect with customers, and particularly the rapid growth of customer service on social media.  According to the study, “Consumer demand for social relationships with brands has skyrocketed in 2012.”

Here are some highlights from the study, which analyzed over 770,000 social media interactions (over the last year) directed at leading retailers and service providers using Conversocial:

  • 91% growth in the response rate of leading retailers
  • 297% growth in the number of replies brands sent on Facebook and Twitter
  • 393% growth in the number of replies brands sent on Twitter
  • 53% of Twitter mentions were responded to…compared with just 16% of Facebook comments and posts

While Facebook still dominates in total volume of comments and posts, Twitter has experienced greater growth as a customer service channel.  In Q4 2011, Conversocial brands made nearly exactly the same number of responses on Facebook as on Twitter — now, brands are responding more on Twitter.

A collection of data from NYU (also cited in the study) shows a 459% surge in customer communication on Facebook for America’s biggest retailers, measured over Thanksgiving week in 2011 and 2012.
Facebook Wall Posts Received Thanksgiving Week - NYU Research via Conversocial
Liel Leibovitz, Assistant Professor of Communications at NYU, says “…platforms like Facebook and Twitter are rapidly becoming prominent means of communication between consumers and corporations.”

While Conversocial shows that the number of brand responses via social media is increasing rapidly, a recent study by Simply Measured found that top brands are still responding to only 14% of tweets.  Which means there’s still a long way to go before brands respond as often – and as quickly – as customers expect.

Is your brand using social media for customer service?  What percentage of tweets, comments and posts does your brand respond to?

Customer Service on Twitter: Top Brands Respond To Only 14% Of Tweets

Nearly all (95%) of top brands are active on Twitter, and 23% of top brands have Twitter handles dedicated to customer service, according to a Simply Measured study.  But how effectively are brands responding to the tweeted requests, concerns and complaints of individual consumers?  A new study by CRM analyst Ashley Verrill revealed that many of these tweets go unanswered — over the course of 4 weeks, brands responded to only 14% of the tweets sent.

The “Social Customer Service Race” Study

Brands must use social customer relations management systems to find and prioritize social media comments and help requests in real time. To test brand response rates, prioritization and timing, 14 leading consumer brands in 7 industries were sent customer service tweets from personal Twitter accounts. Each company received 1 tweet per weekday for 4 consecutive weeks; during the first and third weeks, our employee participants used the brand’s Twitter name with an @ symbol, but during the second and fourth weeks of the race, only the brand name was used (with no @ symbol).

The questions or comments used for the study were meant to elicit a response, based on the social media management best practices of several industry experts. The questions fell into 5 categories:

  • Urgent, or I need help right this second.
  • Positive (“thank you!”).
  • Negative.
  • A question from their FAQ page.
  • Technical, or needs more than one interaction to solve.

Brands Fail to Respond

Out of 280 tweets sent over 26 days to 14 big brands, only 40 responses were received – some more than 24 hours after the original tweet. While this is a small-scale study, there’s no doubt that the results are not so impressive.  (This also makes sense given the data from Simply Measured, which found that out of the 23% of top brands that have dedicated customer service handles, only 7% respond to 50+ tweets/day, and just 3% handle 100+ tweets/day.)

Looking at the results reveals some major pointers for social CRM:

Listen for your brand’s name – with or without the @ symbol. The study looked at how long it took each brand to respond and the percent of total tweets that received a reply. One of the main findings was the “overwhelming” failure of brands to respond to tweets that didn’t include the brand’s name with an ‘@’ mention.  Only 3 out of 40 (8%) of the total responses received (throughout the course of the study) happened when a brand’s name was tweeted without the ‘@’ symbol.  The study’s author notes that “most social listening software can be programmed to listen for mentions without the @, with the @, and #brandname” — brands should be actively listening for all three.

Expand your keywords (‘triggers’) to help prioritize responses. Brands also need to chose the proper keywords to prioritize when scanning company mentions in tweets.  While many brands responded to tweets with the words “thank you,” other words (or ‘triggers’) that should have warranted a more immediate response went unanswered, including “buying,” “switching,” “help” and “mad.”

Pay attention to who’s tweeting. Companies also did not seem to have methods for tracking responses to individual tweets (one tweet was replied to twice, with different answers), nor for noting which users tweeted more frequently and/or had more frequent social interactions with the brand.  Those who use Twitter more actively are generally more inclined to share their customer service experiences with their social media audience; brands would do well to use software that examines the Twitter activity of a user, and keeps track of that user’s interaction with the brand.

Both studies indicate that in order to keep up with customer expectations, brands need to expand their focus on social media to include customer service efforts in addition to marketing initiatives.

See the full results in this infographic, breaking down the response time and percentage (per tweet) for each of 14 major brands:

Social CRM infographic via Customer Service Investigator

40% of UK Consumers Say Social Media Improves Customer Service

Is social media “fundamentally redefining the relationship between consumers and brands?”

UK Customers Prefer Customer Service via Social Media (Echo, Fishburn Hedges study)According to new research by Fishburn Hedges and Echo, eighteen million UK customers are speaking to brands via social networks. The number of people in the UK using social media for customer service has nearly doubled in the last eight months, from 19% to 36%.  Most of them – 65% – feel that social media is a better method of communication than trying to get through to a person at a call center.

Four in 10 respondents said that social media “improves customer service” (whether they use it or not), vs. only 7% who fear that social media could have a detrimental effect on customer service.

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of UK consumers who’ve used social media channels to communicate with brands believe that “social media has given them greater customer voice.”

Percent of UK Customers Interacting With Brands via Social Media (Echo, Fishburn Hedges study)The younger generation is most likely to reach out to brands via social media – nearly half have done so – but other age groups also have strong showings.  Over one in 4 respondents ages 55+ have used social media to communicate with brands.

Are UK companies doing enough to be available to consumers on social media, particularly in response to customer service demands? And having a social media presence isn’t enough – they have to be able to respond quickly.  In the US, over half (51%) of Facebook users and over 80% of Twitter users expect to receive a response to their questions within 24 hours or less.

The Fishburn Hedges research combines data from 2,000 UK consumers’ views of social media and brand engagement, in-depth interviews with executives from leading brands, and data from social media monitoring. Download a PDF of the report findings here.

KLM Launches 24Hr Social Media Customer Service With Live Replies Via YouTube, Twitter

KLM Launches Social Media Customer Service Campaign

Another airline making serious waves in the social media space is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  Their latest endeavour, meant to promote the launch of a new “24-hour service to social media,” involves posting videos on YouTube of live human responses to tweets sent to @KLM.  This innovative campaign was announced via Twitter on September 19 and ran from 12 noon until late in the evening, according to the KLM press release. While the campaign was running, any tweets sent to @KLM might receive a ‘KLM Live Reply’ – KLM employees at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport lined up holding letters to become a ‘living alphabet’ 140-character response.

“To show the world KLM’s helpful social media service, we’ve replaced normal Facebook and Twitter typed responses with a living alphabet made up of 140 KLM employees. This dedicated crew responds to tweets and posts in a unique way, by running around and assembling the answer live before your eyes, within the hour,” reports Social Times. The campaign was explained in more detail on YouTube, and the dozens of live replies were both uploaded to YouTube and tweeted.

How much effort did KLM put into the ‘Live Reply’ campaign? It involved 450 KLM volunteers, working in three shifts, to answer questions via Tweets, Facebook posts, or Hyves, with all responses using just 140 characters.  “Today’s campaign should show, in a special — and, more important, personal way — that we’re willing to go the extra mile for our customers,” said Martijn van der Zee, SVP E-commerce AF KLM.

Going forward, KLM will use social media to answer every customer message personally within one hour, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in Dutch or English.  Customers can reach KLM through social media to ask any questions about their travel, and KLM will inform its ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ about the latest KLM news.

Was this an effective way for KLM to promote their new social media customer service capabilities?  And is the prospect of a live human response enough to get customers engaged and tweeting, and worth the impressive amount of manpower the effort required?