The UK’s top 25 retailers have plenty of room for improvement in their social media and customer service strategies, with just 25% of those with a Twitter presence responding to customer questions through this channel. 

This is one of the findings of the Auros Are you serious about social? study, which looks at how the top 25 UK retailers responded to queries on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs.  

More highlights from the study after the jump…

Retailers on Twitter

20 of the top 25 retailers actually had an account on Twitter, which does at least show that they are beginning to see the importance of Twitter. It can be an effective customer service channel, allowing for swift responses to questions, and offering the ability to demonstrate to other users that they are listening to customers. 

The 25 companies followed in the report had an average of 69,000 followers, which shows that there is a decent level of customer interest. 

  • Despite the researchers actively engaging with the brand and asking questions, none of the retailers followed them back. This means customers can’t get in touch to provide details to help get their problem sorted out, or to move the discussion to another channel. 
  • Only 25% of retailers with a Twitter account responded to a question directed at them. 
  • While 20% responded to negative comments which had been directed at them, compared with 10% that replied to positive ones
  • For those that replied the average response time was 94 minutes, which isn’t bad. By comparison email response times were 10 hours on average, which says a lot about the quality of email service.

These results suggest that, though retailers are keen on a Twitter presence, they are yet to learn what users expect from them via this channel. That said, it should be very basic common sense (and good manners) to reply to a question posed directly at them.

Whether the question is positive or negative, this represents a missed opportunity to engage with customers, and also suggests that many brands are using Twitter as more of a push marketing channel. 

Facebook

  • Fewer (72%) of the 25 retailers had a Facebook page, but the average number of fans was higher, at 258,000. 
  • Retailers responded to questions more promptly on Facebook, an average response time of 78 minutes, while 88% gave a helpful answer. 
  • When it came to responding to positive or negative comments, the figures were different. Just 17% responded to a positive comment on their wall, taking an average of 112 minutes to respond.
  • Just 11% of brands responded to a negative comment left on the wall. 

As with Twitter, there is plenty of room for improvement here, and again brands are missing opportunities to engage with customers. 

YouTube

The study results suggest that retailers don’t place much importance on YouTube as a social media channel, despite its massive audience and social functionality. 

  • Just three (12%) of the retailers studied had their own YouTube channel. 
  • These retailers had an average of 1,514 fans.
  • None responded to any comments left underneath videos. 

Blogs

52% of retailers had a blog on their websites, and though the report found that some of the content on offer was good, none responded to questions and comments left underneath blog posts, and there seemed to be very little interaction with any other blog readers.