Social media is the best channel for customer support

Email is falling behind social media channels when it comes to customer support, a new survey by Eptica suggests. The multichannel customer interaction management software provider trialed 100 'leading' UK companies, mimicking the behaviour of ordinary customers by asking 10 routine questions.

It wanted to see how long it took the companies, and which channels they mostly used, to answer their customers to any questions they might be asking.

The results have been published in the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study, and here's what they say:

  • Email has become slower, with 64 per cent of companies making it available to non-customers (10 per cent less than a year ago). The average time needed to answer the question increased by nearly 5 hours – to 34 hours 15 minutes.
  • The results varied across industries – 80 per cent of insurers answered accurately, while no consumer electronics manufacturer managed to do that.
  • Twitter is the fastest, with companies taking on average 4 hours 14 minutes to answer, down from 5 hours 27 minutes it took last year. Facebook was good, but not good enough, with 8 hours 37 minutes needed to respond, on average.
  • For consumers looking for answers to basic questions, the web is still the best choice, with an average of 66 per cent of queries being answered. That's up 2 per cent since last year.
  • Companies are usually taking the 'uni-channel' approach, with 18 per cent answering accurately on just one channel. One entertainment retailer answered a question on Facebook in 6 minutes, but took 152 hours to answer to the same question via email.

“Brands are under growing pressure to deliver a consistently high quality experience to customers, however they choose to make contact,” said Derek Lewis, UK & Ireland sales director at Eptica.

“The sheer volume of queries and the fact that customer expectations are continually rising is having a definite effect on the performance of many companies, particularly on the email channel. Some are forging ahead, while others are falling behind, with a consequent impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenues. Just 51% of all queries were answered satisfactorily. Overall, consumers are as likely to get a useful response as they are to correctly call heads or tails on the flip of a coin.”