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fishburnecho-consumer-dealings-brands-social-media-may2012.jpgThe proportion of UK consumers who have interacted with companies through social media has almost doubled in just 8 months, from 19% in August 2011 to 36% in April 2012, according to [pdf] survey results released in May 2012 by Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research. Brand interaction over social media is highest among 18-24-year-olds, at 49.5%, and declines alongside increasing age. Even so, almost one-third of 45-54-year-olds have made contact with a brand through social media, and more than one-quarter of those over 55 report having done so.

Most Are Optimistic About Potential

Data from the report indicates that most respondents are enthusiastic about the potential offered by social customer service. 40% of respondents believe that social media improves customer service, dwarfing the proportion who fear that social media will harm service (7%).

Marketers appear to also hold this optimism. According to a Sword Ciboodle survey released in May 2012, 91% of customer service practitioners believe that providing customer service over social channels is a good thing for their customers, and 89% think it is a good thing for their organization. In terms of the primary benefits experienced when using social channels, increased customer satisfaction topped the list, cited by 24% of the respondents, ahead of meeting customer expectations (14%).

Other Findings:

  • Roughly two-thirds of the UK respondents to the Fishburn Hedges survey who have used social media to contact a brand believe that it has allowed them to find their voice. Brands should be careful to leverage that voice for positive ends, though. According to an American Express survey released in May, consumers who have used social media for customer service will tell more people about a good experience than the general population (42 vs. 15), but? will also spread the word at a far greater rate about bad experiences (53 vs. 24).
  • 65% of the UK survey respondents believe that social media is better than call centers. By contrast, just 7% prefer call centers.

About the Data: The Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research data is based on consumer polls conducted by OnePoll Research. There were 2 bursts of nationally representative online research (August 2011 and April 2012), each polling 2,000 UK adults.

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