Many retailers provide multichannel customer service through non-voice channels, including social media, email and web chat. But which channel is best for serving customers? Eptica – Email Beats Social Media As Best Channel For Customer Service In Retail, email takes the crown.
The study surveyed 500 U.S. retailers on their proficiency in answering 10 common, industry-specific questions through Facebook, Twitter, the web, chat, and email. It measured speed, accuracy and consistency of replies across each channel. Also, 1,000 consumers were asked about their wait time expectations for each channel.
Email responses to customer inquiries were significantly higher than other channels. Retailers answered 73% of emails, while only 20% of questions were answered over Twitter and 54% through Facebook messages.
When it came to wait-time expectations, retailers and consumers had big differences. 58% of consumers expected an email reply within 2 hours, but email responses averaged 7 hours and 51 minutes. However, responses over email were significantly faster than social media.
Communication through Facebook and Twitter performed poorly. Most consumers expect a reply through Facebook within 6 hours, yet response times averaged 27 hours. Customer service replies over Twitter took an average of 31 hours when consumers expected a reply within an hour.
Performance among retailers was inconsistent. According to the study, four retailers replied to consumer inquiries within a minute on Facebook; whereas four took over 20 days to respond. Eptica found one retailer answered 100% of questions, but another answered only 10%. Customer experience varied among industries. Retailers in the flowers and gifts sector performed well answering email question. In contrast, retailers in the automotive and accessories industry only answered half of customers’ questions.
Web chat also presented interesting results. Inquiries through this channel were relatively fast, yet some customer service challenges remained. Chat replies took an average of 4 minutes, 28 seconds. However, of the 51% of retailers who advertised chat for customer service, only 35% replied to customer inquiries.
Many of these retailers promise excellent customer service through multichannel options yet fal to deliver. Companies must be fully staffed and consistent in handling customer service questions through email, social media and web chat.
Other key findings of this study include:
- 18% of 99% of companies that offered customer service by email did not reply to email questions.
- 86 companies took over six hours to respond to email.
- 25% out of 87% of companies advertising a Twitter handle responded to questions over a tweet.
- 80% of questions were answered by 34% of retailers on the web.
- 25% of companies failed to answer over half of questions asked.
- 60% of Flowers/Gifts retailers successfully answered consumers’ questions through chat.
- 14% of Food/Drug and Health/Beauty firms responded to a question through chat.
- Mass-market companies answered 68% of customer queries.
- Toys/Hobbies answered 47% of questions.
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