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53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour.

However, if a customer makes a complaint to a brand using Twitter, that figure goes up to 72%.

These stats come from the latest research by Lithium Technologies and perhaps contradicts the previously held notion that just 11% of people expect to receive customer service via social media.

If companies don’t respond within the one hour time frame, 38% of people feel more negatively towards the brand, and an impressively galvanised 60% will take action against the brand using social media.

Traditionally, people have been reluctant to follow standard complaints procedures; the overlong, premium priced phonecall to customer support where you’re passed from department to department; the furious letter that takes weeks to receive a response from, by the time which you’ve probably calmed down or the problem’s long passed.

Not anymore, not in these days of transparent social media, where a Twitter storm can erupt within hours of a sole disgruntled tweet (check out this customer service fail from British Airways) and PR meltdowns are a regular consequence. We like being an angry mob. It’s how we get things done, and the more visible the better.

Just look at the recent British Gas Twitter Meltdown or the Ryanair #GrillMOL wreck that crash landed a few days later:

This all proves that we are not afraid to name and shame a brand. Twitter has shown us that results can happen. Immediately.

According to the Lithium research, 74% of customers believe that if they take to social media to criticise a brand, this leads to better service

More than half of all Twitter users engage with brands, and that same number prefer Twitter to other traditional methods of communication when they need to contact them. So which brands are offering great customer service on Twitter?

According to Socialbakers, these are the top brands in Q2 2013 for Twitter customer service (with the number of answered questions minus unanswered questions):

  1. Tesco: 9,302
  2. Virgin: 6,783
  3. Vodafone Netherlands: 6,271
  4. American Airlines:  6,187
  5. Vodafone United Kingdom: 5,993
  6. O2: 5,977
  7. Claro Argentina: 5,398
  8. Nike: 4,465
  9. KLM: 4,348
  10. Safaricom Kenya: 3,975

30% of top brands have dedicated Twitter feeds for customer service, and those brands that provide customers with a timely response can expect the following benefits:

  • 34% of customers are likely to make another purchase.
  • 43% are likely to recommend the brand to their family and friends.
  • 38% are more receptive to the brand’s adverts.
  • 42% are more likely to recommend the brand through social media.

For advice on improving your customer service strategy, download our Integrated Customer Experience Report.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 7 November, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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