U.S. Consumers Demand Faster and More Attentive Customer Service Via Social Media

Share Article

Conversocial survey indicates 30% expect response within minutes; More than half describe experiences as “disappointing” or “mediocre.” For Best and Worst in Social Customer Service Category; winners include: Target, Safeway, J.C. Penney, Walgreens, Bank of America, and Verizon Wireless; Apple beaten by Best Buy.

Conversocial Survey Infographic

This research reflects the mixed experiences consumers are having, shining a spotlight on the discrepancies in performance among many companies in the same sector.

U.S. consumers have high expectations for both increased speed and attentiveness for customer service over social media channels. Among the key findings from a cross-industry survey released today, commissioned by social customer service leader Conversocial, and conducted in May 2012 by Assistant Professor of Communications at New York University, Liel Leibovitz, include:

  •     More than half of consumers (55%) surveyed called their experience of communicating with brands via social media "disappointing" or "mediocre."
  •     Approximately 30% of respondents said they expected companies to reply within hours when contacted via social media; 16.6% expect a response in less than 10 minutes; 13.1% less than an hour; 29.2% said within the same business day.
  •     Supermarket, retail banking, and telecommunications sectors were found to be the least effective at communicating with customers via social media, while department store and dining sectors were the most effective.

The study, entitled, “The Company You Keep: A Sector- and Company-Specific Analysis of Consumer Satisfaction with Communicating with Retail Corporations via Social Media Platforms,” measured sentiment across eight different industries to rate the best and worst in social customer service. The 8 sectors and 38 companies featured in the survey were selected from a list compiled by Stores Magazine, the trade publication of the National Retail Federation.

When asked to rank how well brands used social media to communicate with customers, respondents identified Target, Safeway, Subway, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Walgreens, Bank of America, and Verizon Wireless the winners.

Today’s research significantly expands on a survey commissioned by Conversocial last December, which looked at consumers’ sentiments and expectations concerning interactions with companies on social media. That research found that 88% of consumers were less likely to buy from companies who ignore complaints in social media.

Respondents rated department stores and the dining sector the best at communicating with customers via social media, while supermarket, retail, banking, and telecommunications sectors were rated the worst.

Other surprising 'takeaways' from the survey include:

  •     Subway beat Starbucks, McDonald's, and Burger King in the dining category.
  •     Best Buy beat Apple in the electronics market (not by much, but still remarkable).
  •     Target swept the department store category, with a comfortable lead.
  •     People seem to dislike banks and telecom companies equally, as satisfaction rates in these two categories were very low.

“While consumers are becoming more accustomed to using social media in communicating with companies and their brands, too many companies are struggling to meet high expectations for quick and satisfactory responses,” said Conversocial CEO, Joshua March. “This research reflects the mixed experiences consumers are having, shining a spotlight on the discrepancies in performance among many companies in the same sector.”

“Bottom line, while traditionally consumers are rarely satisfied completely with customer service, fast and efficient social customer service can quickly change the old paradigm and create a viral effect of consumers actually praising rather than vilifying companies,” continued March.

As consumer appetite continues to grow for making social media the main conduit for customer service, today’s survey also found that contrary to widespread belief different age groups expressed more or less similar predilections.

“The research clearly indicates that consumers have grown to expect faster and more attentive customer service via social media," according to NYU Assistant Professor of Communications Liel Leibovitz. “Consumers are looking for greater transparency and efficiency, and social media channels can certainly provide that.”

In addition, the research found that 20.9% of respondents said they had used their mobile devices to contact companies via social media while still at a company store.

"The conversations a company has with its customers via social media truly represent its brand, often at the very dynamic moment when point-of-purchase decisions are being played out," March said. "The results of the survey reveal that ignoring or delaying a response to complaints and questions have consequences among the buying public.”

589 individuals were surveyed representing a gender and age balance roughly reflective of the U.S. population.

"The fact that over 55% of respondents said that their experience using social media to communicate with companies, was mediocre or disappointing says that these companies have their work cut out for them,” explained March. “Although this communication channel is relatively new, it undoubtedly is exponentially growing among all demographic groups and industries.”

About Conversocial
Headquartered in London, Conversocial is expanding into the American market, recently announcing they have processed more than 100 million customer service interactions on social media, growing at a clip of 20 million per month. Companies and organizations such as Groupon, Ogilvy, Sephora, and The University of Phoenix are using Conversocial's Software-as-a-Service to manage the flow of customer service enquiries and discussions on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: Lisa Langsdorf, lisa(at)thunder11(dot)com, 212-362-1307

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Lisa Langsdorf

Email >
Visit website