Top Online Retailers Using Social for Customer Service, but Response Times Lag

Conversocial-Top-Internet-Retailers-Social-Service-Performance-July201381% of the US’ top 100 online retailers (selected from the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide) are responding to customers on Twitter, and 80% are similarly responding on Facebook, according to [download page] a study from Conversocial. The study also finds that half of the retailers are fully resolving customer service issues within these platforms rather than directing customers to other channels, but that response times are still slow. In fact, the average response time on Twitter was 11 hours and 15 minutes.

Surprisingly (depressingly?), that’s better than most brands are doing on Facebook, according to recent Socialbakers research that found the average response time to be almost a full day in Q1. But, Socialbakers also found that response times on Twitter tend to be faster, averaging out at more than 6-and-a-half hours in Q1.

(It’s worth noting that the list of top 100 brands used by Conversocial is not the same as the Internet Retail Top 100. In some instances, Conversocial opted to add or remove brands with or without a significant social media presence. The full list of retailers is available in the report.)

Obviously there is a wide variance in response times, and the Conversocial report indeed notes that the best response time was a rapid 9 minutes, while the worst was more than 2 days. But in combination, the data appears to show that response times on social media tend to be quite slow. And that’s a problem because the estimates seem to be at odds with consumer expectations: a recent survey found a majority of consumers expecting a customer service query response within 4 hours when using Facebook or Twitter.

The above-referenced figures – wherein about 8 in 10 online retailers are responding to customer service issues on social media – also mask another problem. According to the Conversocial data, while many are responding, few are frequently doing so. Indeed, response rates were higher than 40% for fewer than 10% of the retailers analyzed, with the average response rate being a meager 13.8%. (The most recent Socialbakers data – which surveyed a broader range of brands – put that figure at a healthier 38%.)

So while these online retailers are gravitating towards social as a customer service channel, the data indicates they still have some work to do.