The Consequences of Ignoring Your Customers

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1 The Consequences of Ignoring Your Customers A Survey of Consumer Expectations for Customer Service on Social Media Platforms 1. Introduction 2 2. Study 3 3. Findings 4 4. Conclusion 6 5. Appendix: Questionnaire & Results 7

2 Introduction Social media has always been about two way communication; but for too long companies have been ignoring their customers and treating social networks as a one way marketing channel. Those failing to stay on top of their complaints and questions are exposing their poor service to the world. We commissioned a communications professor at New York University to conduct a survey designed to reach the heart of consumers attitudes and expectations of brands in social media. We wanted an answer to the question what does it really matter? Earlier this fall, we produced the white paper series, Who s Ignoring their Customers which revealed that retailers are struggling to deliver effective customer service on Facebook. Over 60% of complaints and questions were neglected by US stores. Businesses seem to be struggling to deal with the volume of communication on Facebook and Twitter; they aren t equipped to deal with this new public forum and issues are slipping through the cracks. However too many seem to have failed to acknowledge there s a problem to tackle. 30% of the major American retailers we studied ignored 100% of the issues posted to their pages they aren t even attempting to respond to their customers. In a recent poll of their users, Facebook found that the platform is growing as a forum to discuss and discover new brands and products. Fan pages play an integral role, with more than a third of users proactively researching brands pages after seeing a friend recommend a product. The conversations a company has with its customers in social media represent its brand, in a space where real purchasing decisions are being played out. The results of this survey reveal that ignoring complaints and questions has a strong impact on these decisions, and shows that those companies failing to keep up will suffer financially. Consumers believe that social networks will only become a more significant route to companies - the consequences of ignoring your customers can t be overlooked until they pass by. Social customer service is here to stay. 2

3 Study To understand the state of customer satisfaction with current corporate attitudes on social media sites, as well as future expectations, a comprehensive online questionnaire was devised by Liel Leibovitz, Assistant Professor of Communications at New York University, and completed by 513 respondents. The participants were reached via social networking sites, forums and . Most respondents resided in large metropolitan areas of the United States, at an average age of 38, and the sample was skewed slightly female. After a few brief demographic checks the participants were asked 9 questions, which can be found in the Appendix. These ranged from their current usage of social media to communicate with corporations, to the ideal corporate behavior on social media platforms and the likely impact of witnessing unaddressed consumer complaints on a corporation s social media site. Most respondents reported inadequate response times, unanswered queries, and overall unmet expectations. Most respondents were also adamant that such corporate behaviors would have some or much effect on their future decision to do business with offending corporations. 3

4 Findings 1. The majority (50.7%) of the 513 respondents who completed the survey currently use social media to communicate with corporations, and 78% believe that social media platforms would either soon entirely replace other means of customer service altogether or become a leading way for consumers to communicate with corporations. 2. Of those respondents who have communicated with companies on social media sites, nearly a third (32.5%) were either neglected or altogether ignored. 3. If ignored by companies on social media sites, 45% said they d feel anger, and 27.1% said they d stop doing business with the offending company altogether. 4. If confronted with unanswered customer complaints on a company s social media site, 88.3% of respondents said they d be either somewhat less likely or far less likely to do business with that company in the future. 5. Nearly a third of respondents, or 32.4%, characterized their overall satisfaction with the way companies use social media sites to communicate with customers as either poor or very poor, while 59.6% expressed guarded optimism for future positive developments in the field and only 8% were thoroughly satisfied. 4

5 I believe communicating with companies on social media F 22% 42.3% 35.7% Is the way of the future. I do everything else on Facebook and Twitter, so why not get some customer service that way as well? Would likely become a major way for customers to communicate with companies, but probably not at the expense of more traditional methods. Is a passing fad. Social media is just for intimate messages between friends. If I went on a company s Facebook page, and saw a bunch of unanswered questions or complaints from customers F 38.8% 11.7% 49.5% I d be far less likely to buy anything from that company. If I ever needed customer care, I d likely be ignored as well. I d be somewhat less likely to buy anything from that company. Ignoring customers is a bad sign, but I have other considerations. I wouldn t care. 5

6 Conclusion Liel Leibovitz, Assistant Professor of Communications at New York University, who led the research, noted the strength of the trends which came out of this survey: The lion s share of consumers was both presently and increasingly engaged in communications with corporations on social media platforms, albeit to less than satisfying results. While social media sites are a growing frontier of consumer-corporate interaction, most respondents reported inadequate response times, unanswered queries, and unmet expectations. Most respondents were also adamant that such behavior would have some or much effect on their future decision to do business with offending corporations. The attitudes of American consumers revealed in these findings show that social customer service is already impossible to ignore and will only become more important in the future. Not only are the majority of consumers currently using social media to communicate with companies, but nearly 80% believe that social networks will become a major way to communicate with companies in the future. This is despite the fact that two thirds have been either ignored completely or received unsatisfying, delayed answers. This shortcoming has an impact upon purchasing decisions. Customers don t respond well to being ignored, which becomes even more powerful as expressions of anger accumulate. Every complaint which is left unanswered, and every minute it sits on the page threatens the future business of the 9 out of 10 page visitors who proclaim themselves less likely to offer their custom to companies who don t take social customer service seriously. The problem is greater than the sum of its parts. Consumers opinions of a company and their subsequent behaviour are influenced not only by their own experiences, but more significantly those of others. More respondents indicated that their future business with a company would be affected by a page filled with unanswered queries than their individual experiences of neglect. This shows clearly the need to deal with customer service as fully as possible on public social networks. If you take an issue offline there is no resolution for your wider audience to take reassurance from, no matter how good your level of individual service. Your public image remains one of a careless company who leaves queries neglected. Social customer service issues should be handled publicly whenever possible. Some forward-thinking companies such as Safeway, the leading company identified in our previous whitepaper, are on top of the challenge, delivering quick responses to the vast majority of all issues coming through platforms such as Facebook. But as the results of this survey show, supported by our recent research into retailers responsiveness, most companies are still failing to keep social customers sweet. If our respondents predictions are realised, and social networks are the future of communication between brands and consumers, there s a lot more work to be done for companies to hold onto their customers. 6

7 Appendix Questionnaire & Results 1. I use social media to communicate with companies: 27.7% Never 21.6% Rarely - only when I am very happy or very displeased 50.7% Frequently - It s so easy and I m on Facebook and Twitter anyway 2. I believe communicating with companies on social media: 35.7% Is the way of the future. I do everything else on Facebook and Twitter, so why not get some customer service that way as well? 42.3% Would likely become a major way for customers to communicate with companies, but probably not at the expense of more traditional methods like telephone support lines. 22% It s a passing fad. Social media is just for intimate messages between friends 3. Ideally, what should companies be doing on their social media profiles? 27.3% Offer me discounts, news, and other useful stuff 9.6% Listen to my praises and complaints 63.2% Both 7

8 4. When I posted on a company s social media page, I: 15.2% Was completely ignored 17.3% Got an answer, but it took forever and was unsatisfying 16.2% Got an answer right away 51.3% N/A 5. In the future, when I post on a company s social media page, I expect: 31.8% An answer to my question right away 52.4% Some sort of reply, eventually 15.8% Nothing, really. I don t think companies know what they re doing online 6. If a company ignores me on a social networking site, I m likely to: 27.3% Be very angry, and not do business with that company anymore; why should I give my hard-earned money to a company that ignores me? 45% Be a little bit angry, but continue to give the company my business 27.9% Understand; I imagine the corporation is too busy to notice someone unimportant like me 8

9 7. If I went on a company s Facebook page, and saw a bunch of unanswered questions or complaints from customers: 49.5% I d be far less likely to buy anything from that company. If I ever needed customer care, I d likely be ignored as well. 38.8% I d be somewhat less likely to buy anything from that company. Ignoring customers is a bad sign, but I have other considerations. 11.7% I wouldn t care. 8. Below are several things companies can do on social media sites. How important are these things to you? Kindly rank them on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being not important at all and 5 being very important. Not important at all Somewhat important Moderately important Important Very Important Answer my questions or complaints promptly 4.9% 11.4% 15.5% 33.1% 35.2% Get me in touch with a real, live person at the company 7.8% 10.8% 20.5% 29.7% 31.1% Provide additional content I can t find on the website or elsewhere 6.6% 9.9% 25.3% 33.1% 25.0% Keep me posted about news, promotions, etc. 6.7% 11.2% 24.1% 30.2% 27.8% 9. Based on your experience, how would you rank your overall satisfaction with the way companies do business on social networking sites? 7.8% Very poor: You never get what you need when you need it. I don t know why they even bother being on Facebook. 24.6% Poor: It s very spotty. Sometimes you get what you need, sometimes you don t. 59.6% Good: There s room for improvement, but, overall, companies are starting to get the hang of it. 8% Great: It s such a smooth and effective way of communicating with companies. 9

10 Conversocial enables companies to provide better customer service on Facebook and Twitter. With complete visibility and prioritisation, no issues need be missed. Teams work together on social communication through Conversocial s collaborative platform, with all essential tools in one place. Complete security, audit, and control bring accountability to social channels. Headquartered in London, Conversocial is expanding into the American market and recently announced they have processed more than 35 million customer service interactions on social media, growing at a clip of 2.5 million per month. Companies and organizations such as Groupon, ITV, Tupperware and The University of Phoenix are using Conversocial s Software-as-a-Service to manage the flow of customer service enquiries and discussions on Facebook and Twitter. Contact:

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