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.