Email beats out social network tools in consumer communications

Nov. 13, 2015
Email beats out social network tools in consumer communications

When it comes to the fastest and most accurate retail customer service communications approach it appears the old standby, email, still beats out all the new social ways of engagement, including Facebook and Twitter.

The insight, revealed in the 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study, states of the 500 U.S. retailers and 1,000 consumers polled, retailers could only answer 20 percent of questions presented in tweets and 54 percent of Facebook posts. But they had a much more successful interaction with email with 73 percent stating they answered shoppers' inquiries sent through email channels.

"For me the Eptica Study proved that, for many retailers, customer service is just talk — or actually lack of it," said Shep Hyken, customer experience expert and writer of the 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study, in an announcement. "Don't promise me great service and then take hours to respond to my requests, if you respond at all. The best companies get it, respecting their customers and their time — these are likely to be the winners in the competitive retail market."

Not only were retailers more responsive the response time was much quicker with email, on average three times faster, yet consumer expectations were not truly met. The study states more than half of consumers, 58 percent, expect an email reply within 2 hours, and the retailers' response time averaged more than triple, clocking in at 7 hours and 51 minutes.

The study also indicates some big performance gaps in communication between retailers and consumers. For example, while four retailers answered Facebook posts in one minute, four other retailers' Facebook replies didn’t arrive for over 20 days.

"The Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study has uncovered a chasm between the best and worst when it comes to retail customer service," Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-founder of Eptica, noted in the announcement. "Some companies are delivering stellar service, yet others are unable to deliver the multichannel performance that customers expect and demand. It is therefore vital that laggards learn from their peers if they want to retain customers and thrive moving forward."

Additional key findings included:

  • 99 percent of companies offered email, but only 81 percent of companies responded to an emailed message. This meant 18 percent of them simply didn't answer their email queries.
  • 86 companies took over 6 hours to reply to email — one sporting goods retailer responded in 218 hours (over nine days), another company answered in 48 seconds.
  • 87 percent of companies advertised their Twitter handle, yet just 25 percent replied to a question sent via a tweet. Overall just 20 percent provided a satisfactory answer to the question they were asked via Twitter.
  • There are growing gaps between best and worst. On the web, 34 percent of companies answered 80 percent or more of questions asked, yet 25 percent neglected to answer more than half of questions asked.
  • The top sector on chat was flowers/gifts, with 60 percent of companies successfully answering through the channel. In contrast, just 14 percent of food/drug and health/beauty retailers dealt with a question via chat.
  • Across all channels (web, email, social media and chat), the mass market category came in tops, answering 68 percent of all questions asked. Toys/hobbies was bottom, providing successful responses to just 47 percent of queries.

Topics: Customer Experience, Marketing, Social Media, Technology, Trends / Statistics


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