Consumers Rate Retail, Dining Brands' Social Skills

Subway

A new survey finds that consumers rate Target, Safeway, Subway, Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Walgreens, Bank of America and Verizon Wireless as being the best retail and restaurant brands when it comes to using social media to communicate with customers.

The survey, commissioned by social media customer service company Conversocial and conducted by Liel Leibovitz, an associate professor of communications at New York University, measured sentiment across eight different industries to rate the best and worst in social customer service – as well as garner consumers’ feedback on their social customer service expectations. The eight sectors and 38 companies featured in the survey were selected from a list compiled by the National Retail Federation’s Stores Magazine. 589 consumers representing a gender and age balance roughly reflective of the U.S. population were surveyed.

Channel-wise, respondents rated department stores and the dining sector the best at communicating with customers via social media, while supermarkets and the retail banking and telecommunications sectors were rated worst.

Brand-wise, results highlights include: 

*Subway beat Starbucks, McDonald's and Burger King in the dining category.

*Best Buy beat Apple in the electronics market (albeit by a small margin).

*Target swept the department store category, with a comfortable lead.

Service Expectations

Highlights of findings relating to consumers’ social media customer service expectations:

*More than half (55%) described their experience of communicating with brands via social media as "disappointing" or "mediocre."

*About  30% said that they expect companies to reply “within hours” when contacted via social media; 29.2% expect a response within the same business day; 16.6% expect a response in less than 10 minutes; and 13.1% expect a response in less than an hour.

* Contrary to general assumptions, different age groups expressed more or less similar expectations/behaviors.  

*21% said that they had used their mobile devices to contact companies via social media while still in-store.

The research clearly indicates that “consumers have grown to expect faster and more attentive customer service via social media," observed Leibovitz. “Consumers are looking for greater transparency and efficiency, and social media channels can certainly provide that.”

"The conversations a company has with its customers via social media truly represent its brand, often at the very dynamic moment when point-of-purchase decisions are being played out," added Conversocial CEO Joshua March. The survey results confirm that “ignoring or delaying a response to complaints and questions has consequences among the buying public.”

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