Online customer service still lags other channels

Shoppers in need of customer service say they’ll go online to reach out to a company online only as a last resort, according to a study from The Northridge Group. In The State of Customer Service Experience 2015, The Northridge Group found that companies are struggling to meet consumer expectations for a seamless and effortless omni-channel customer service experience.

It is only when they have exhausted all other options that they then turn to live chat, email, or social media to submit an inquiry or complaint. Many customers still prefer speaking to someone on the phone for these types of inquiries. For the consumers surveyed who have contacted brands on social media, one-third of them never received a response.

Key themes from the study include that social media ranks last in meeting customer expectations. Customers use different channels for different purposes and while social media is most commonly used for sharing experiences and as a point of escalation, the phone is better suited for problem resolution. Yet forty-seven percent of consumers plan to use social media for customer service next year the same or more than they currently do.

Due to the inherent speed of communication via the web, many consumers feel that slow customer service online is unacceptable:

  • 38 per cent of consumers expect a company’s first response on social media within the same day
  • 30 per cent said it usually takes a week or longer to receive a first response on social media
  • 31 per cent of consumers expect a company to resolve an issue on social media within the same day
  • 39 per cent said that it usually takes a week or longer to have the issue resolved on social media

Online channels provide an important opportunity for meeting customer needs as soon as retailers find out about them. Companies that respond quickly to social media inquiries can help drive up customer loyalty, helping to increase revenue over time.