If a customer phoned your business to make an enquiry, would you hang up on them?

Well, it seems we need to be careful when it comes to responding to clients online. Offering high-quality customer service on all channels is a hard task for many UK companies, according to new research I came across by customer interaction software Provider Eptica. The study examined 100 UK businesses, looking into their ability to answer consumers’ questions online, including via email, company websites and Twitter.

According to the study, the best way for consumers to have their questions answered is to ask businesses via their websites. An average of 63% of questions were answered by companies on their sites – an increase from last year, when the average stood at 53%. This improvement was mostly due to the increased use of web self-service software, which allows consumers to find answers by themselves.

Despite the generally accepted idea that social media provides an opportunity for a direct and immediate interaction with consumers, the Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study found that UK companies struggled to provide adequate customer service on Twitter. More than three-quarters of the businesses surveyed had accounts on the social network, but only 39% managed to reply to questions posted by consumers. Admittedly, when companies did reply, Twitter took the shortest time to answer, with an average response time of eight hours and 37 minutes.

By contrast, the average time for a reply sent via email came in at an alarming 61 hours and 39 minutes. Still, email is a better channel for answering consumer questions than Twitter, with a total of 41% of queries being successfully answered, Eptica revealed.

It could be a deal breaker when it comes to gaining their business, so are you doing all you can to keep on top of your responses to customers?

Ben Hollom

April 8, 2014