Social Media A Customer Service Channel For 1 in 2 Users

47% of American social media users aged 18 and older have used “social care,” finds NM Incite [download page] in a new report. That figure, unsurprisingly, is highest among younger groups, with 60% of 18-24-year-old females and 57% of males of that age accessing customer service through a social media platform. And although the use of social media for customer service drops among more mature groups, around 3 in 10 social media users aged 65 and older report having used social care.

According to recent survey findings from SocialMediaToday, in cooperation with SAP and the Pivot Conference, 71% of businesses claim to use social media for customer service, and 87.5% of those have realized a positive impact from doing so.

1 in 10 Seek Customer Service Daily

Details from NM Incite’s “State of Social Customer Service Report” reveals that those who use social media for customer service do so fairly frequently. 9% report doing so at least once a day, while another 21% do so at least weekly. All told, roughly half make customer service inquiries via social media at least a few times a month.

Many social media users are using this avenue simply because they prefer it to customer service over the phone. More than one-third of those aged 18-34 prefer social care, as do one-quarter of 45-64-year-old social media users.

Responses Not Yet Fully Effective

Although social media users increasingly report a preference for social care, response times and effectiveness aren’t quite there yet. Asked the outcome of their most recent social care experience, only 36% said that the response they received was both quick and effective. About one-third collectively said the response was quick but ineffective (14%), effective but too slow (8%), or that they did not receive a response at all (10%). (The remainder could not recall or answered “none of the above” to the question.)

According to the SocialMediaToday survey findings, about two-thirds of companies using social customer service claim to respond in 4 hours or less, and 26% within a day.

Recent data from Socialbakers finds that in Q3, companies responded to 48% of questions posed over social media. The most “socially devoted” industries? Airlines (69.1%), finance (65.7%), and telecom (65.5%). Don’t try getting much out of automotive brands though – they answer just 26% of questions asked on social media.

About the Data: The NM Incite data is based on a survey of a representative group of 2,000 US social media users over the age of 18 using Nielsen’s online panel. The survey was conducted in July 2012 and the data is weighted to enable a representative comparison across age and gender.