New research shows social media's continued dominance as the most rapid form of customer service. This corroborates previous studies that outline the shifting landscape, as brands devote more resources to faster turnaround times on customer service requests via social media platforms.
The survey, from eDigitalResearch, received 2,000 customer responses. Eighty percent of these consumers who had recently contacted a brand through social media received responses within 12 hours. This is in comparison to the 37% who heard back within that same time frame using e-mail as the communication channel.
In fact, the results of this particular study showed that social media was the only customer contact channel that guarantees a response from a brand. Of those surveyed who had used any form of social media to reach out to a company, all of them received a response to their post, comment or tweet.
As this sort of positive reinforcement educates the consumer, they will be turning to social media to engage customer service more regularly. The path of least resistance offers the greatest return, and consumers are taking note.
Believe it or not, some of the surveyed customers actually communicated via letter - perhaps to deal with a very large issue that merits the formality of the letter. However, 62% of those folks had to wait over 48 hours for a reply. This lack of immediacy may be appropriate for larger issues that cannot be resolved in the lightning round of social.
In addition, the tone of the interaction on social media is important to the overall customer experience. Unsurprisingly, those who were ignored by brands - the brands did not respond to their emails, calls, or other communication - were the least satisfied. One in ten actually never heard back from a brand - and seven percent who engaged in a "live online chat" function were left without any interaction whatsoever.
Most importantly, in the research announcement, Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, said that only 2% of those surveyed actually had turned to Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts for brand interaction.
Whilst there are still a limited number of consumers using social media channels to contact brands (our survey showed that just 2% have recently their Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts to get in touch with a brand), it is currently the only channel that ensures that all consumers receive a response following their contact.
These results show that there are currently major disparities across customer touch points - measures should be taken to ensure that departments and teams work together to provide the best contact experience possible. Improving the customer experience should be a business wide operation.
The key takeaway here is that all companies - especially intensive customer service industries like travel - need to treat all channels of communication equally. The brand experience must translate across channels, and the customer should never be left hanging. They should feel taken care of regardless of the chosen channel.
It's also important to note that each communication channel merits its own style of response from the company. Whereas a social media engagement might merit a letter written to the customer, a person who takes the time to write a letter most likely does not want to be responded to via Twitter.
The tone and medium must match the consumer's initiated communication, in addition to their expectations in terms of response and resolution.
NB: 24/7 image courtesy Shutterstock.