Social media has long been a hotbed of dissatisfied customers, and many businesses have built and trained a staff to respond to any issues. But according to a recent study, customers who actually want to resolve their problems are harder to find on Facebook (News - Alert), Twitter, and other platforms. Since 2013, they’ve been turning away from social media and focusing on more traditional channels.
Social media customer service declined year over year, according to a new survey commissioned by NICE and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The study of consumer expectations and preferences not only showed attrition for social media customer service, but pointed out distinct differences in customer service expectations based on nationality, age, and gender.
Social Media Customer Service Declines
While daily, weekly, and monthly use of social media channels doubled between 2011 and 2013, those same categories declined between 2013 and 2015. The number of respondents who never use or are not offered social media customer service rose from 58 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2015.
Digging into the reasons why customers are abandoning posts and tweets reveals the ineffectiveness of social media to meet customers’ needs. A third of respondents said it takes too long to address issues on social. Another 32 percent point to the limited functionality, and 30 percent noted social wasn’t feasible for complex tasks. Social media was the channel with the highest percentage of abandons in both 2013 and 2015, with the number rising from 32 percent to 42 percent over that period.
Customer Expectations Vary Around the Globe
The survey results found that U.S. consumers tend to have lower expectations of customer service in general. Americans surveyed ranked only 15 out of 25 aspects of customer service as essential, while other countries’ respondents expected anywhere from 21 to all 25 attributes.
Australian and European respondents said it was essential that they be automatically routed to the correct customer service agent along with their information without being transferred multiple times, and that their service rep be aware of their past three to five interactions with the company to tailor service to their needs. American respondents, on the other hand, said all of those actions would “exceed expectations.”
One issue, however, elicited wide agreement. Having issues resolved immediately was cited as the top factor in a perfect customer experience across all countries, industries, genders, and ages, valued by 51 percent of respondents. Three other top factors in the perfect experience were also widely noted. Reps knowing what consumers need and providing an immediate solution resonated with 49 percent of respondents. And 42 percent agreed that their perfect experience includes reps forwarding information and actions from department to department, as well as knowing what consumers already did through a self-service channel.
Satisfaction Dips Around the Globe
Across the board, customer satisfaction and success have dropped since 2013 across every contact channel except mobile. The drop is consistent across countries and verticals, but appears to be driven in part by Gen X and Gen Y males.
Interactive voice response (down 20 percent) and social media (down 23 percent) declined more than other channels in terms of both success and satisfaction.
How Age is Connected to Churn Rates
The study found that churn rates depended on the age group of the respondent. While 78 percent of baby boomers will leave a provider due to a customer service issue, only 54 percent of millennials will do so. Gen X sat in the middle, with 66 percent saying they’d leave.
Gen Xers and baby boomers cited rude, unknowledgeable, or inexperienced representatives more than any other factor as their reason for abandoning a brand, at 47 and 48 percent respectively. And while 40 percent of millennials agreed, 41 percent said their inability to reach a successful resolution was their reason for leaving.
Customers Don’t Think Their Feedback Has Any Effect
Consumers’ perception of their feedback dropped sharply between 2013 and 2015. Only 23 percent of respondents thought it very or extremely likely that service providers took action based on their feedback, down from 40 percent in 2013. A quarter of respondents in 2015 said it was not very likely or not at all likely that companies would listen to their feedback.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the results show the increasing complexity of customer service, even as it’s more critical than ever to a business’s success. It underscores the value in tracking and analyzing the customer journey to identify any weaknesses that could turn customers away. In the data are many opportunities for businesses to distinguish themselves as true partners that understand customers’ needs and meet them at every occasion with the perfect experience.
Micha Catran is global vice president and general manager at NICE.
Edited by Alicia Young