Businesses have a long way to go when it comes to online customer service, particularly on social media channels, which is where more and more people are seeking to interact with them.
Are you making efforts to improve your customer service on social media? What steps are you taking? What steps should other businesses be taking? Discuss.
Poor customer service on social media is nothing new. We've been looking at quite a few reports and studies on the topic lately, but they keep coming, and a finding from this most recent one might be the most alarming yet.
A new study from Sprout Social finds that despite an increase in messages sent to brands on social media, nearly 90% go unanswered.That's a pretty disturbing stat when you think about how important social media has become to the business world and how much time people spend using it to interact with businesses.
Not only are the vast majority of messages going unanswered, but people are sending more of them.
"The report, which analyzed brands across 15 key industries, found that the number of social messages sent to brands increased by 21 percent in the first two quarters of 2015; however, 7 out of 8 messages went unanswered," a spokesperson for Sprout Social told WebProNews in an email.
"According to the report, brands have an imbalanced social strategy, sending four times as many posts as replies," they added. "Across the industries analyzed, retail and utilities brands are closing the gap between posts and replies, while media/entertainment and real estate struggle to find a balance."
They found that the media/entertainment industry responds to roughly 1 in 12 messages.
Brands in Asia receive over three times as many messages as brands in Europe, Africa, and North America, and The Middle East has the best response rate at 13.1%.
Sprout Social released this infographic looking at highlights from its findings:
The social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are starting to make things easier on businesses, announcing new tools to help them or at least motivate them to get better at social customer care.
In fact, Sprout Social itself recently teamed up with Twitter on a suite of tools to help brands provide better customer service, though this isn't widely available at this point. They're providing programmatic access to impression and engagements data for the first time, which will help brands prioritize conversations, get insights from interactions, and measure audience, Twitter says. They're also providing better access to historical public tweets so brands can get a better understanding of their customers and create relevant and personalized experiences.
This is all in pilot right now, but Twitter says the efforts will "pave the way for the next revolution of social customer service".
"Our goal is to make it easier for brands to provide outstanding customer service on Twitter," said Twitter's Zach Hofer-Shall. "Twitter can transform the way brands approach customer service but companies need the right solutions and the right data to take advantage of this opportunity. At the core of these improved solutions is early access to new data and a more collaborative relationship model."
Twitter also greatly raised the character limit on direct messages, which should make customers feel more comfortable about messaging businesses with customer service related issues, and could lead to increased efforts to have issues resolved in that format. This is another thing businesses are going to have to keep up with.
Facebook recently announced Page Messaging, giving customers more ways to send private messages to businesses and ways for businesses to manage and respond to them. There's a new guide available from Facebook that details how to go about using that.
Long story short, people are sending more messages to businesses on Facebook and Twitter, and businesses are doing a terrible job of keeping up with them and responding. That needs to improve, but at least the social platforms are giving businesses more ways of helping them.
Do you expect social media customer care to improve going forward? What needs to happen for things to get better? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Thinkstock, Sprout Social