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Study Finds That 92.5% of Brands Fail at Social Customer Service

social-customer-service-failMost brands now use social media on a regular basis, but it turns out that they don’t all use it correctly. In particular, few brands take social media customer service seriously, as a report by Rational Interaction recently revealed that 92.5 percent of brands fail at social customer care. With these statistics, it’s likely that your brand could improve at social customer care, too, so you should check out the details on this report before you start boosting your social media skills.

Rational’s Findings

Rational’s data comes from 76 brands in the healthcare, technology, and retail fields. The agency studied the way these brands use Twitter, since about 67 percent of Twitter’s 360 million users expect customer care through this platform. More specifically, 53 percent are hoping for a response from brands within an hour after they reach out. And even more – 72 percent – expect a response if they left a complaint on the brand’s Twitter page.

Clearly, customers are hoping for and even assuming they’ll get excellent customer service through social media. That’s why sales actually increase when people get great customer service on Twitter. But brands keep failing them by ignoring their complaints, since 58 percent of customers on Twitter never get a reply at all, let alone within an hour.

Not surprisingly, the result is that customers stop using the brands that ignore them on Twitter, as 55 percent of them have switched to a different brand because of it. And 60 percent of them even let everyone know about their disappointment with social customer care by tweeting about it. Obviously this is the result you don’t want, since it’s bad for business! Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this kind of negative publicity for your brand.

The Solution to Subpar Social Customer Service

Rational pointed out that brands tend to choose between two ways of offering social customer care. The first is through a single Twitter handle that is used for all tweets. Brands that use this option often miss a lot of questions and complaints from customers on Twitter. Those customers try to get the brand’s attention by using several related hashtags, but many brands still fail to respond. The result is that the Twitter handle is overrun with negative posts from upset customers, which can make branded content and compliments from customers hard to find among all the tweets.

The other option is for the brand to create a Twitter handle just for social customer service. Rational discovered that brands that do this fail to respond to only 4 percent of tweets from customers, since those tweets are easier to find and track on a separate handle. That’s a lot more satisfied customers than the brands that have just one Twitter handle!

In fact, Rational also found that brands that take care of complaints with their own separate Twitter handle just for customer service are 28 percent more likely to get a “thank you” or other compliments from customers. Those happy customers are then 5 percent more likely to post their gratitude on the main Twitter handle, boosting the image of the brand. This also means most negativity stays on the customer support Twitter handle rather than on the main one.

Of course, creating a separate Twitter handle for customer service is especially important for big brands, which is why Nike, Xbox, and Verizon Wireless all have their own customer care handles. But even smaller brands can benefit from this tactic, since it can make customer issues easier to spot and fix via Twitter.

And having a separate support handle is more common in some industries than others. For example, this study found that it’s extremely rare among brands in the healthcare field, since only 3 percent have a customer care Twitter handle, which may be why 80 percent of healthcare brands fail to offer any social customer care at all!

By contrast, only 5 percent of retail brands ignore customer complaints on Twitter, and 35 percent use a separate customer care handle. Finally, 20 percent of technology brands ignore social customer complaints, and a pretty impressive 45 percent use a designated support handle. This is good because 82 percent of customers think technology brands should respond within an hour, so expectations are higher than usual.

So has your brand been providing great social customer service on Twitter? If so, do you use a separate handle for customer care? Request the full report from Rational Interaction here and then let us know if your experience is similar to the brands in this report, or if your brand rises above all the rest.