The following is a guest blog post from Ashley Verrill, a market analyst with Software Advice.
“The Great Social Customer Service Race” was to created to evaluate how efficiently the nation’s top brands provide consumer support on Twitter. We wanted to learn what kinds of tweets received a response, and how quickly.
To conduct the race, four Software Advice employees used their personal Twitter accounts to send customer service tweets to 14 leading consumer brands in seven industries. Each company received one tweet per weekday for four consecutive weeks. During the first and third weeks, our employee participants used the brand’s Twitter name with an @ symbol. Using the @ triggers a notification to the account owner that they’ve been mentioned in a tweet. In the second and fourth weeks of the race, only the brand name was used.
The questions fell into five categories: urgent, or I need help right this second; positive (“thank you!”); negative; a question from their FAQ page; Technical, or needs more than one interaction to solve. The evaluations in the infographic are based on the time it took the brands to respond and the percent of total tweets that received a reply.
Here’s a snapshot of the results:
- 90% of the responses occurred when the @Brand was used, less than 8% came from Brand mention with no @
- The negative questions by far received the least amount of responses (5%). Others: Urgent (24%), Positive (22%), FAQ (24%), Technical (24%)
- Bank of America and Home Depot were the only ones who responded to no @ mentions
- Bank of America had the overall best response percent at 17.5%
- MasterCard responded the fastest when they did respond with an average 34-minute response time
- Starbucks, Visa and Apple didn’t respond at all
Some lessons learned include:
Don’t leave the customer hanging. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s committed huge errors when two of their replies came several days after the questions were sent. For the instant-gratification customer, this is the same as not responding at all.
Don’t miss messages with important keyword triggers. When we designed questions for the race, we specifically included questions with important intent, sentiment or risk of switching brands. Social listening software can be programmed to send service messages to the front of the line if they contain keywords such as “help,” “mad,” “thank you.” These rules are imperative for brands that need to automate tweet prioritization.
Don’t be a robot. Customer service expert, best-selling author and speaker Micah Solomon told me recently that being human in your engagements with customers on Twitter is one of the most important considerations. Twitter is a social platform, your responders need to talk and act like they would interact with their real friends and family. Say thank you. Be personal.
Listen for your brand, @ or no @The social customer service innovators watch and respond to non-@ mentions because they see the opportunity to really surprise and delight. Most social listening software can be programed to listen for mentions without the @, with the @, and #brandname.
About Ashley Verrill
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.