{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

In recent years social customer service has endured crises and successes in equal measure. Here’s a quick evaluation of where we are today, with some pointers for the future.

For an increasing number of people, social media is the first place they turn when they experience a problem.

Fewer than 50% of companies are actively responding to these enquiries and many of those are using cost-cutting copy and paste tactics, which is exactly what call centres were criticised for.

We need to invest in finding ways of supporting customers more effectively on the channel of their choice and ensuring a consistent customer service experience across all service channels. 

In recent years social customer service has endured crises and successes in equal measure. Here’s a quick evaluation of where we are today, with some pointers for the future.

Let’s start with the positive side of social customer service. In his recent two part blog post, my colleague Martin Hill-Wilson highlighted some solid statistics from Socialbakers that indicate that some of the UK’s largest brands are now very responsive to customer service enquiries:

Next (the UK clothing retailer) answers 93% of their Facebook customers against an industry average of 55%. While Vodafone manages to respond 77% of the time and thus comes out top on Twitter against a global benchmark of just 32%.

For an increasing number of people, social media is the first place they turn when they experience a problem. According to Nielson’s social media report 2012, 47% of social media users engage in social media care and 1 in 3 users prefer to contact brands using social media rather than the telephone.

Despite this, and Martin’s examples above, research by Gleanster shows that only 41% of companies actively respond to consumer complaints on social media.

What’s more, the average response time for enquiries through social media is over 24 hours. When you consider that 92% of consumers have switched business at least once in the last year because of poor customer service and this cost businesses £12bn, the evidence is clear: most companies need to improve their efforts.

In addition to responsiveness, there are questions about the quality of responses, with lazy writing and cost-cutting practices evident. Again, Martin Hill-Wilson cites one problem in particular:

Social customer service loses a major advantage when advisors are allowed to simply cut and paste their initial response. That was what we criticised call centres for.  This time the impact is even worse, since everyone else can easily assess the house style and so this formulaic approach looks even worse… The impact is to make the brand look unresponsive and uncaring.

Brands also face the challenge of combining their many communication needs through a single channel, or even a single Facebook Page.

A brief overview of the UK’s leading retailers’ Facebook Pages will show you two things: firstly, that most are actively using Facebook for marketing; and secondly, that their customers are predominantly using the channel to post support requests. The disconnect is, again, stark. 

One of the reasons for the slow progress with social customer service is funding. In most companies the Marketing department still controls the largest budget – and that is certainly the case globally.  

According to Genesys, we spend $500bn a year on marketing while just $50bn is spent on CRM and only $9bn on customer service. In a world in which social media can make or break brands, social customer service is still the poor relation.  

When you consider Gartner’s 80/20 rule, which suggests that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers, and the quote (attributed to Lee Resources) that attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer, there is a strong case to suggest that good customer service should be more profitable than marketing. This is especially so in a word-of-mouth environment.

In any event, what’s clear is that, while many companies are starting to deliver a positive social customer service experience, we still have a long way to go. We need to invest in finding ways of supporting customers more effectively on the channel of their choice and ensuring a consistent customer service experience across all service channels. 

Luke Brynley-Jones

Published 31 May, 2013 by Luke Brynley-Jones

Luke Brynley-Jones is Founder at Our Social Times and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

12 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

Guy Stephens

Guy Stephens, Social Customer Care Consultant at IBM Interactive Experience/GBS/MobileEnterprise

I had great hopes for social customer care. There was a huge amount of activity in both the UK and US between 2008 - 2010, in which companies like BT, BestBuy, giffgaff pushed the boundaries of how customer service could be provided, and people like Frank Eliason, Scott Monty and Dave Carroll did much to help us think about a different type of customer service that was more intimate, empathetic and responsive.

But since 2010 or so, my sense (rightly or wrongly) is that, although more companies are entering the space, little progress has been made. We are seeing a type of customer service in which Twitter and Facebook (and increasingly apps; everyone wants an app, right?!) are being shoehorned into an existing model that is at best long overdue for change, and at worst a conscious continuation of a type of customer service that is increasingly less relevant. Perhaps the time is fast approaching whereby organisations will start to understand that their customer service model itself needs looking at.

about 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ian Golding

Like Guy, I have great hopes for 'social service' - a recent experience of mine with Morrisons highlights that it is very possible. Your readers may be interested to read about it in a blog post I have written - http://ijgolding.com/2013/05/28/18-hours-how-a-loaf-of-bread-helped-improve-the-customer-experience/

What is interesting is that the early adopters (like BT), have not been able to sustain the action and behaviours that Morrisons demonstrated. The real challenge is sustainability and repeatability. If Morrisons are able to repeat what they did with me, time and time again, they will become one of the new leaders in social service.

about 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mike Schneider

Yes, Guy, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is certainly twofold:

1) Many customer experience departments not currently structured to allow for the cross-departmental feedback loop necessary for good social customer service. This collaboration is necessary to actually resolve customer issues within social without merely redirecting them from their chosen medium.

2) Similarly, most softwares are not build with workflows to allow for these new social customer service teams to efficiently respond at scale. Hate to sound like I'm doing a sales pitch, but Conversocial (www.conversocial.com)'s been built for this purpose, so don't lose hope just yet! :)

about 3 years ago

Luke Brynley-Jones

Luke Brynley-Jones, Founder at Our Social Times

Thanks Guy, Mike and Ian. As with everything Internet related, things change much slower than we expect, but much more radically. I can see this happening in customer service. Certainly we haven't seen social service improving at the pace it could have, but then some of the teams I'm talking to in the UK and beyond (Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany, currently) are making impressive steps to both (a) integrate service channels and (b) dramatically improve service on all channels.

I look forward to chatting with Guy at Social CRM 2013 about this next month. Mike/Ian hope you can join us: http://oursocialtimes.com/event/socialcrmlondon/

about 3 years ago

Luke Brynley-Jones

Luke Brynley-Jones, Founder at Our Social Times

Thanks Guy, Mike and Ian. As with everything Internet related, things change much slower than we expect, but much more radically. I can see this happening in customer service. Certainly we haven't seen social service improving at the pace it could have, but then some of the teams I'm talking to in the UK and beyond (Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany, currently) are making impressive steps to both (a) integrate service channels and (b) dramatically improve service on all channels.

I look forward to chatting with Guy at Social CRM 2013 about this next month. Mike/Ian hope you can join us: http://oursocialtimes.com/event/socialcrmlondon/

about 3 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.