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Is Twitter the Right Channel for Responding to Customer Service Questions in the U.K.?

While social media has the potential to be a great add-on tool for customer service (communicating with the public through Twitter opens up possibilities for immediate interactions) most U.K. organisations are not using Twitter for direct stakeholder interactions. In fact, even though the majority of U.K. organisations have a Twitter account, only about a third of them are using those accounts to reply directly to customers. The Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study compared 100 private sector U.K. companies’ response rates and consistency of response through email, Twitter, and their website. Not all channels proved to be equally effective.

Of the companies evaluated, 76% had a Twitter account. While companies were active in posting content, only 53% responded to questions tweeted at them. Of those responses, only 39% provided a useful response. Many organisations can become focused solely on sharing content on social media, but fail at responding to consumer inquiries. In such a public forum, managing complaints and stakeholder interactions can eat up a lot of time, and mismanaging or missing responses might mean you’re one hashtag away from an angry throng of followers.

Photo from Econsultancy

Photo from Econsultancy

So how can you avoid these issues and better respond and serve your customers online? Email.

How Email Helps

Email continues to be the most effective and thorough avenue for customer service. While some may complain about the response time, 41% of questions were answered thoroughly through email. However, of the tested companies, 29% were not at all reachable by email. This statistic is alarming, considering that email was the most successful in handling digital customer service inquiries. Take the time to put a general inquiry email address on your Twitter page or respond to social media requests with your email address to take the discussion to a channel where you can respond with more detail to keep your customers happy and engaged.

Another surprising statistics from this study was that the average wait time for a response over email was a whopping 61 hours and 39 minutes. Imagine the success that could be found by cutting this time in half.

Website Self-Service

Website interaction, similar to email, is another effective channel for communication. Of those surveyed, 63% of questions asked directly on websites were answered, up from 53% the previous year. The jump in questions answered has been credited to better self-service tactics—like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages.

 It is important to be diligent in giving accurate, timely, and thorough responses to public inquiries. Email will give you the most efficient platform to answer a variety of questions, from short, simple inquiries to more detailed situations. Additionally, you can keep customers engaged with your organisation by offering options to subscribe to email updates on their topics of interest. If using Twitter as a social media tool, be sure to not only post news and content, but also respond to all inquiries, even if it’s to direct social media inquiries to your customer service email team or the frequently asked questions page on your blog or website. Being consistent across all mediums will leave your public informed and engaged.

Is your organisation using Twitter or other social media channels for customer service inquiries? How are you structuring that today, and is there a team of individuals responsible? Let us know how your organisation is handling its customer service management in the comments below.