Social customer service a go-to channel in emerging markets

7th Jul 2015

BT and Avaya’s latest research into multichannel support has unearthed a growing trend for social customer service in developing nations.

A survey of more than 5,500 people across Belgium, China, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain, UAE, UK and USA found that consumers in India (88%), UAE (87%) and Indonesia (80%) are far more likely to turn to Facebook and other social networks for service queries than in the UK (53%), Belgium (48%) or Germany (40%).

Similarly video-chat is also a far more common expectation in India (81%), China (78%) and Indonesia (74%) compared with the UK (52%), Germany (45%) and Belgium (40%).

Indeed, multichannel customer support appears to be far higher on the agenda for consumers in developing nations than across any of those regarded as ‘developed’.

The survey found that consumers in China, UAE, Spain, India and Indonesia were far more expectant of brands in their delivery of customer service across multiple channels than in the USA, UK, Germany and Belgium.

And crucially, customers want to be able to move seamlessly from channel to channel when they need to, with online tools such as web-chat the most desirable in this. Also popular is the ability to switch from social media to the telephone (63%) and the ability to move from webchat to telephone (62%). Just one in three respondents feel organisations currently make it easy to do this, however.  

BT’s head of customer insight and futures, Dr. Nicola Millard, believes the trends simply highlight the rising expectations for customer service across the globe, and the pressing need for businesses to react to those expectations regardless of the location.  

“Organisations have to align themselves with rapidly changing consumer expectations,” she said. “Transactional websites and mobile apps - along with social media - put organisations in the position of having to support customers 24/7. The digital world lives ‘in the moment’ and puts consumers in control. Customer service has to follow suit.”

The research is by no means the first to declare the importance of social media as a customer service channel, but may be the first to shed light on the channel’s expectations globally.

Last month, research from the Northridge Group found that only 2% of customers in the UK currently choose social media as their preferred means of contacting brands’ customer support teams because of the lack of response they get back.

Indeed, further research from Northridge also found that 33% of customer queries on social media are left unanswered, however with expectations now increasing across the globe, multinational brands in particular will come under increasing pressure to improve their offerings.      

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