Of the 71% of businesses that claim to use social media for customer service, 87.5% (and 62.1% of businesses overall) have realized a positive impact, according to October 2012 findings by SocialMediaToday, in cooperation with SAP and the Pivot Conference. About 3 in 10 of those companies using social for customer service claim a very positive impact, while only about 1 in 10 report no noticeable impact at all. However positive the returns, though, less than 1 in 5 handle 25% or more of customer service issues via social media. A plurality (41.2%) handles less than 5% of their customer service issues via the channel.
Social Service Integration Uneven, Possibly Overestimated
Still, the percentage of businesses that claim to have integrated social into traditional customer service is on the rise, at 45.2% in 2012, up from 35.6% in 2011. Of those respondents that claim integration, 73.2% (so a third of respondents overall) claim to have used social for more than two years. But they appear to be less integrated than they perceive themselves, judging by their top social customer service engagement methods.
Of those respondents who have integrated social into customer service, 38.4% report having no formal process for customer service, and addressing issues ad-hoc. 34.4% use it fairly comprehensively, claiming to review social profiles, use knowledge management and other enterprise data to compose responses. Another 15.6% reviews social profiles for context before answering, while 5.9% do not personalize responses. Finally, 5.6% monitor questions on social networks, but do not answer them.
Social Response Time Typically Under 4 Hours
About two thirds of companies using social customer service claim to respond in four hours or less, and 26% within a day. Some inefficiencies emerged that cause delayed response time, among them, finding the right answer (reported by 41% of respondents), waiting for guidance on how to answer (34%), finding the appropriate message to answer (27%), or that the current tool makes response difficult (7%).
Finding the right answer and waiting for guidance may be typical of customer service, but are potentially more important given social media’s amplified reach. According to American Express survey results from May, consumers who have used social media for customer service are more engaged and vocal in speaking about their experiences than the general population. This cuts both ways: while these respondents claimed to tell more people about a good experience than the general population sample (42 vs. 15, on average), they also would spread the word at a far greater rate about bad experiences (53 vs. 24).
While some may struggle to give the best responses over social media, the other inefficiencies cited in the Social Media Today study – finding the appropriate message and difficulty with tools – are more specific to the social media tools themselves, suggesting the need for more training for representatives, or investment in social media monitoring tools and more user-friendly tools.
About The Data: SocialMediaToday invited members of TheSocialCustomer.com community to participate in a short survey regarding how their companies use social technologies for customer support. SocialMediaToday also partnered with The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) to invite its global membership to participate. Between the sources, 118 completed the survey.