Commentary

Most Consumers Don't Want Customer Service Via Social Media

Not so long ago, you would routinely hear predictions that social media was the customer service channel of the future -- but if that prediction is true, then I guess we haven’t arrived at the future yet, because most people still don't view social media as a suitable channel for customer service.

That's according to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 25 and up by M2Talk, which specializes in customer service technology, which found that just 2% of consumers said they prefer social media as a customer service channel. That's especially damning when you consider that this isn't a hypothetical choice: fully 67% of consumers surveyed have already used a company's social media channel for customer service -- meaning they have actually experienced it and were obviously not impressed. Meanwhile, 25% said they have never used social media for customer service, including 39.7% of respondents ages 55 and over.

Other channels were much more popular, including some digital channels. The most popular channel was still the good old-fashioned telephone at 33.5%, followed by email at 32.5%; live online chat at 21.3%; and in person at 10.4%. At the same time expectations for social media customer service are pretty high, with 53.7% of respondents saying they expect a response in less than an hour during regular business hours, including 19.8% who expect a response within 30 minutes and 16.9% who expect a response within five minutes.

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Asked what kind of tactics they use to resolve customer service issues, a large majority of consumers (72.6%) said they have had to threaten to cancel their service or buy a competitor's product to get the desired outcome. And they were not bluffing: among the group that threatened to cancel service, 87.1% said they have in fact carried through on the threat.

As always it's worth noting that there can be considerable variation in survey results, although other studies seem to broadly agree with the findings above. For example, another survey by NewVoiceMedia in 2013 found that telephone is still the favored customer service channel for 59% of U.S. consumers, compared to 19% for email and 13% for social media. NewVoiceMedia also found that 27% of Gen Y-ers favored social media for customer service.

2 comments about "Most Consumers Don't Want Customer Service Via Social Media".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 21, 2015 at 9:59 a.m.

    When you have a problem, you want it solved ASAP not shared with anyone else. Sometimes that problem is personal. If you need additional advise because the company is not taking care of it or has given a sufficient answer, then there are sites to visit where people post other solutions. However, cable is still holding the marbles and using alternative services is not a comparable solution for many people yet, yet, yet.

  2. Sally B from xcDogs, January 22, 2015 at 3:36 p.m.

    Social media for customer service? I love it, myself. I had a problem with Staples, and the local manager was not helpful. Once I tweeted my frustration and tagged the home office, I heard back in 6 minutes!! ALl was successful after that. I'll do it again, for sure.
    I also am good at following up with positive messages, so its not only a whining thing for me.

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