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Survey shows more consumers turning to social media channels for customer service

A new study has found that social media is changing the customer service industry with more UK consumers turning to social media sites to resolve problems, search for information and voice complaints.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Survey shows more consumers turning to social media channels for customer service

A new study has found that social media is changing the customer service industry with more UK consumers turning to social media sites to resolve problems, search for information and voice complaints.

The Social Media Customer Service Report conducted by TNS and commissioned by customer care outsourcing provider Sitel, surveyed more than 1,000 UK consumers between the ages of 16 and 64 and found that consumers under 25 are leading this shift.

15% of 16-24 year olds said they preferred to interact with customer service on social media channnels such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums over any other method, compared to 8% of 25-34 year olds and 3% of 35-44 year olds. Furthermore, the first thing that 7% of 16-24 year-olds said they did when they had a problem with a product was to complain about it on social media. 

The survey also found that more consumers were searching for solutions online before calling customer service. The first thing 57% of consumers, including 71% of 16-24 year olds, 65% of 25-34 year olds and 64% of 65-44 year olds, said they did when they had a problem with a product was to search for a solution online.

Consumers said they used a variety of social media platforms to get help with a product they had purchased. Across all demographics, 33% of consumers had used online forums or chat rooms, 25% had used video tutorials, either on YouTube or a company’s website, 19% had posted a query on a question website, such as Quora, Facebook Questions or Yahoo Answers, and 11% had used a tutorial or demonstration on a blog.

"Social media is dramatically altering the customer service landscape. With easy access to real-time information, a new generation of ‘always-on’ consumers is more empowered and demanding than ever. This trend is on the rise as social media proliferates, both online and on mobile, across all age groups and demographics," said Lawrence Fenley, Sitel managing director for UK and Ireland. 

He added: "To build trust and brand loyalty in this rapidly changing environment, companies must develop a social media customer service strategy that is responsive, proactive and engaging in order to address customers’ needs."

When asked what companies could do to improve the customer service experience, 35% of all respondents, including nearly half (48%) of 16-24 year olds, said: "post video demonstrations, tutorials and instructions."

However, the survey found that it was still important to maintaining strong phone support. Fewer than 1 in 3 (32%) of consumers aged 55-64 said they go online as a first step if they have a problem with a product. The majority (64%) of consumers in this age bracket said their first contact was the manufacturer or retailer where they purchased the product. When asked what companies could do to improve the customer service experience, 81% of consumers aged 55-64 said "make contact numbers easier to find" compared with 52% of consumers aged 16-24.

The survey also revealed differences between how men and women behave when they encounter issues with a product. When they have a problem with a product, 61% of men and 53% of women said they consulted the internet first to search for a solution, while 39% of women and 30% of men said they would contact the retailer or manufacturer directly before doing anything else.  


From Buzz To Brand Loyalty: Exploring The Benefits of Integrating Social Media Into Your Customer Loyalty Strategy – is one of the panel discussions at the Retail Bulletin’s 3rd Customer Loyalty Conference on June 13th 2012. Confirmed panelists for the session include Ed Weld, Head of Digital, Lush, Emma Hamblin, Content and Social Media Co-ordinator, Joules Ltd and Tess Tucker, Head of Digital Marketing, Just-Eat. Click here for further details and registration.

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