Social Media Preferred for Customer Service, But Companies Fall Short

Social media is fast becoming the preferred channel for customer service among consumers, but companies are failing to meet their expectations of ready availability and swift responses, according to a new study from Amdocs.

The Amdocs survey, conducted by Ovum and Coleman Parkes, found that 50% of consumers prefer social media to the telephone for customer service, and the same proportion have tried to communicate with companies on social media for customer service issues -- but three quarters of these say they either never received a response or didn’t get their problem resolved, forcing most of them to pick up the phone.  

To be fair, consumers’ expectations for social media customer service are pretty high (at least in my book) with 52% expecting the company to respond within half an hour of the initial message; just 24% of companies say they are able to respond that quickly.

On the positive side, many consumers (64%) said they would share some social media information with a company in order to get better service. But currently the majority of companies (93%) said they can’t identify customers based on their social media profiles, and 64% said they don’t store social media interactions in a customer relationship management database -- all of which presents obvious obstacles to tracking customers and providing continuity in customer relationships.

Amdocs vice president for production and solution marketing Rebecca Prudhomme stated: “The research shows a huge opportunity to deflect customer care to lower-cost, social media channels… When people take to Twitter or Facebook to ask questions or, worse yet, complain about their service provider, that’s an opportunity the service provider can take to proactively resolve that customer’s issue -- if they know that customer’s real identity. 

The Amdocs findings are broadly in line with previous surveys investigating consumer attitudes towards social media for customer service. Last year a study by NM Incite that found 47% of U.S. consumers have engaged with customer service via social media, with 28% saying they prefer customer service via social media versus the phone.

Of course there’s a dark side to social media that emerges when consumers get bad customer service: a separate study by NewVoiceMedia that half of consumers said they would tell friends and colleagues not to use the business after receiving poor customer service, and 16% would vent on social media. What’s more, the number who would go online or take to social media jumps to 59% among consumers ages 25-34.

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