UK retailers failing the secret social shopper quiz

29th Jul 2014

UK retailers have been put to the test in new research to determine how they were faring at social customer service. The results? Not so great.  

As part of the Multichannel Customer Experience Study, Eptica went undercover through various channels, replicating consumer behaviour by measuring retailers on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter and web chat.

The results that came back from Twitter provided a clear example of the difficulties many retailers are currently having using the channel for customer queries – only 33% responded successfully to Eptica’s tweeted questions, the average Twitter response time was 13 hours 10 minutes and one retailer took over 76 hours to answer. 

Email was the best performing channel in comparison; 63% of questions were answered, ahead of websites, which successfully provided answers to 60% of routine queries.

“The retail sector has been revolutionised by the expansion of digital channels, meaning retailers have to answer more questions, across more channels, than ever before,” says Olivier Njamfa, CEO and co-founder of Eptica. “However, our study shows that, while some retailers are leading the way, many are failing to deliver fast, accurate responses and consistency across channels.”

A debate has been long-running over whether social media is an adequate platform in which to solve customer service issues, with some industry experts suggesting its current guise was mostly just confusing customers and service reps alike. 

Providing a consistent message across channels is seemingly as much of a problem to retailers as delivering a social customer service strategy. The research found that only 13% of those businesses tested provided any kind of similar answer to the same question through the different channels.

Speed of response is also a concern, in terms of consistency – the retailer that took 76 hours to reply to a question on Twitter managed to respond to the same query in seven minutes via email.

Webchat appears to be the most nascent channel, according to the research. While just 3 of the companies tested had web chat deployed, within those businesses 83% of interactions received satisfactory answers in an average time of 4 minutes. 

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