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What's Hot in Small Business – Chris Crum

What's Hot in Small Business – Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a featured writer with the team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Chris writes for Small Business Resources about social media, search, and what’s new for small business. Hundreds of publications link to Chris’ articles including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, LA Times and the New York Times.

Businesses Are Struggling to Meet Customer Needs on Social Media

Businesses Are Struggling to Meet Customer Needs on Social Media

Recent research shows businesses just aren't cutting the mustard when it comes to fulfilling the needs of their customers on social media. The problems are largely in the area of customer service.

Strangely enough, this seems like an area where social media would be an incredibly helpful tool to businesses. There is a great ability for businesses and consumers to directly communicate with each other, but many businesses are failing to respond to consumers in a timely fashion if at all. Even in cases where they do respond, they're often not actually resolving the issues at hand.

Sadly, customers are still better off writing a handwritten letter and mailing it to a business if they want to get a problem resolved than they are trying to do so via Facebook or Twitter.

The Northridge Group recently shared survey results finding social media is essentially a last resort. Twenty-six percent of consumers turned to such channels when they failed to reach a representative through some other channel. That's actually the number one reason they turn to social media for help. They can't get through another way. That's sad in itself, and perhaps speaks to the problems of a particular business rather than to those of social media as a customer service channel.

According to the research, 47% of consumers intend to use social media next year the same or more than they currently do when they have customer service issues. That means your business needs to be prepared to address their concerns and at least get the ball rolling toward resolution.

An equal number of consumers use social media to share both positive and negative experiences about brands. Addressing customer service needs in a timely fashion would be one good way to move that needle toward the positive.

When asked to rate customer service for most companies on social media, only 14% said they exceed expectations. 52% said they meet expectations, and 33% said they do not meet expectations.

When asked how many times they need to contact a company on social media channels before a customer service issue or inquiry is resolved, 37% said 1, 22% said 2, 20% said 3, and 10% said 4 or more times. Now 37% for 1 may not seem that bad until you consider that it's 61% for online chat, 57% for phone, 48% for mobile app self-service, 47% for web self-service, 46% for letter, and 39% for text message.

When it comes to the response when they contact a company about a customer service issue or inquiry on social media, 33% said they get no response. 45% they merely get acknowledgement of the issue, while just 17% said they have ongoing communication about the issue. 13% say they get the issue resolved, and only 9% say they get a follow-up.

Only 17% of consumers expect a company to respond to them within minutes. 25% expect within the hour, 38% within the day, and 20% within the week or longer.

Facebook is taking this issue seriously. It's testing new features to better respond to customers. For one, they're now showing pages how long it typically takes them to respond to a message. In a separate test, they're trying a new customer service feature that enables businesses to serve a canned response to users who send them messages. This would at least help customers feel their issue is being acknowledged, and businesses can follow up from there.

Social media isn't going away, and people are only going to expect better things from it. That includes better communication with businesses. Given that they're just as likely to talk bad about brands on social media as they are to talk positive, it's going to be in your best interest to give them something good to talk about.


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