Social Media Customer Service Sorely Lacking, Study Shows

Social media customer service is in many ways the perfect marriage of technology, convenience and general best practices for general customer service — but most companies are patchy at best with their strategy, which is downright puzzling in 2013.

One of the benefits of social media customer service is the user friendly and far less daunting medium. Customers can far more easily log on to Facebook or Twitter for assistance and bypass swamped call lines that are generally only accessible at precisely the same times we all happen to be at work or working.

So why hasn’t social media customer service caught on? It has to a degree, and the companies that rock it out with consistency do so to great effect — allowing their base of consumers to view in real time how stellar they are with treating valued consumers.

But nearly half of companies don’t even bother to acknowledge customer queries on Facebook and Twitter, with an incomplete at best approach to social media customer service — strange considering that unlike a private phone call, letter or email, everyone who logs on can usually see the floating post.

LiveOps, a customer service company, commissioned the research, and Natalie Petouhoff, a business consultant and lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, commented on some of the data she collected. Petouhoff says:

You’re destroying your brand by not responding … Companies are going to wonder where they went wrong and went down the drain.

Far from a minor problem, the research found that when it comes to social media customer service, more than 70 percent of queries went ignored. A third of companies went so far as to delete evidence of a customer interaction, and average waiting time in a medium marked by its urgency was a stunning two days.

Petouhoff explains that companies tend to “stick their head in the sand and they think if they’re not looking it’s not happening” when it comes to social media customer service, but they ought not to — customers are 30 percent more likely to commit dollars to a brand that is present and attentive on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.



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  1. Hi Kim, thanks for covering our research! Social customer service has certainly taken longest to be acknowledged by companies as business-critical, and has often taken a backseat to social media marketing, but we're seeing more and more businesses acknowledge that customers service is essential for brand effectiveness too.

    In case you haven't seen it, we've done some additional research recently into exactly what's taking place in those Twitter conversations, where consumers don't take their problems to companies directly, but there's a huge amount of scope for brands to reach out and make a difference. 37% of mentions of the major US retailers we studied were customer service related. Hopefully stats like this will help companies to realise that proactive customer service through social media is no longer a "nice to have"! You can see the report in full here.

  2. Thanks, Anna! If you'd ever like to talk a bit more for a post or two, we have a lot of coverage planned for SM for business, and customer service is a huge area. We think people don't know the standards yet. If you'd like to collaborate for more on this, you can get me at Kim at Thanks!

  3. This is going to open up doors for great or even better customer service. I see a few of my friends reaching out to companies and getting some positive responses. I've done it myself and have gotten good assistance. Great idea, I would be all over it as a entrepreneur.