A growing number of consumers around the world are contacting brands through social media channels, to the extent that customer service and audience engagement is now seen as one of the top organizational areas where social tools carry the most heft. Results from a new study [download page], conducted by Havas Worldwide, suggest that consumer expectations are high for social responsiveness, and that brands that fail to meet those expectations risk alienating a large portion of consumers.
The Havas data comes from a survey conducted online in 31 countries around the world across 10,219 adults. 53% of respondents overall said they believe that companies are more responsive to customers when they complain via social media, a figure that rises to 57% among Millennials (aged 18-34). (Notably, recent survey results indicate that consumers expect faster response times via social than email.)
What happens when companies don’t respond quickly? Consumers get annoyed. 48% of respondents agreed that “it annoys me if I don’t get a fast response from a company or brand I contact via Facebook, Twitter, or another social media channel.” Youth are most easily annoyed by slow response times: 54% of the 18-34-year-old group say that’s the case.
That’s an issue for brands, because most research pegs social response times as rather slow. In Q1, according to Socialbakers, brands’ responses to queries on Twitter averaged more than 6-and-a-half hours. Facebook response times were even worse, averaging out at almost a full day. Even top retailers appear to be missing the cut.
Slow response times are a potential setback at a time when consumers appear to be influenced by brands’ social presence. According to the Havas study, 58% of respondents (66% of Millennials) feel more connected to certain (researchers’ emphasis) brands because they can learn about them and interact with them online. What’s more, 47% of Millennials said they’re more likely to purchase from a company or brand that’s active on social media sites.
As the researchers note, “the overall lesson for brands in the social media space is that consumers regard them with a sort of conditional acceptance.” In other words, consumers will engage with brands, but they expect responsiveness and some usefulness (such as via discounts) in return.
About the Data: The countries covered by the survey are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.