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One in four now using social media for customer complaints

14th May 2015
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The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) says customer complaints are increasingly being driven by social media, with a quarter of UK complaints now seeded through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+, and one-tenth of traditional channel complaints that were considered ‘ineffective’ now being escalated via social networks.

Based on data collected from 2,195 consumers and 12 interviews with senior customer service executives, the ICS states the number of complaints has risen by 9% based on figures from 2014.

Two-thirds of social media complainers describe their experience as good, the data states, while just 14% suggesting it was less than positive.  

However, the study does not account for the average time businesses were taking to respond to complaints on social media, which is still considered one of the primary bugbears for customers reaching out to brands via social.

Recent research from Eptica found that 59% of customer queries were being left unanswered on Twitter, while average response times are around 5 hours 27 minutes in 2015, a figure that is dropping rapidly as the importance of social customer service increases (indeed, this figure was from 8 hours 37 minutes in 2014).

The ICS report itself states that response time will only increase in importance with round-the-clock social customer service likely to become a necessity for big businesses in the coming years.

“We have reached a point where social media is not just a necessary component of a credible customer service strategy but one which offers powerful insights that drive better innovation, co-creation and collaboration,” says Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service.  “To make this a reality, social media needs to be a central part of a coherent, sustained and long-term focus on customer service strategy, something that many organisations are yet to do.”

The accompanying report, ‘Service Goes Social: how organisations can deliver customer service through social media’ indicates that customers are also now more prepared to engage with brands, in a supportive manner, with many liking or following the organisations they buy from and 39% actively ‘giving feedback’.

Causon adds: “The shift from a transactional economy to a relationship economy has been influenced and is most visible through new channels such as social media. Customers are no longer happy with one- way directional communication and expect to engage in conversations with the organisations they do business with.

“Organisations that do this well have a competitive advantage over those that are slow to adopt.  It’s all about choice and enabling the consumer to interact with the company in a way that they choose.”

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