Australia’s customer experience research and consultancy specialists, Fifth Quadrant, recently set out to explore the evolution of social media, web chat and smartphone apps as customer service channels.
The results of the study suggests that the disconnect between consumer use and business expectations may in part be occurring because the two groups are looking to connect with each other in all the wrong places.
Twitter was found to be the leading social network used by businesses, with over three-quarters delivering customer service through this channel in the past three months. Company blogs, websites and online communities were tied in second place, followed by Facebook. YouTube and LinkedIn were also found to be commonly used customer service channels among businesses.
On the other hand, the number one choice for customer service engagement among Australian consumers is Facebook, followed by online forums and YouTube. Popular networks including Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the least popular options, with over seven in ten consumers stating they “rarely” or “never” turn to them for customer service purposes.
The highest user of social media for customer service is Generation Y, which accounted for 46 percent of all social media customer service queries within the last three months. Second is Generation X (39 percent), followed by Baby Boomers (24 percent), and in last place, the Silent Generation (those who were born between 1925 and 1942) (16 percent).
Overall, less than one in three consumers use social media “often” when seeking customer service, but one-third (33 percent) plan to increase their use of social media for customer service within the next 12 months.
While Australian companies have adopted social media for customer service purposes ahead of consumers, over half them showed a low level of preparedness in being able to effectively support the channel given future demand.
“Simply creating a new service channel then standing back and waiting for the customers to come won’t work. If organisations want to offer customer service through social media, they need to go to the networks that their customers use. They also need to treat social networks as they would any other communications channel. This means developing realistic long-term resourcing plans,” said Chris Kirby, Head of Research, Fifth Quadrant.