Email Beats Social Media as Best Channel For Customer Service In Retail

Nov 05, 2015

Email delivers the fastest and most accurate customer service in retail, far exceeding social media and other channels, according to new research from multichannel customer engagement software provider Eptica. "The 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study" evaluated 500 U.S. retailers on their ability to provide answers to routine questions via email, the web, chat, Facebook, and Twitter. Additionally, 1,000 consumers were polled on how long they were willing to wait for responses on these channels.

Retailers surveyed could only answer 20% of questions sent via Twitter and 54% of Facebook messages--in contrast, they replied successfully to nearly three quarters (73%) of emails received. Only around two thirds (65%) of answers to routine questions could be found on company websites.

Email responses were over three times faster on average than social media but there was a clear gap between retailer performance and consumer expectations. A majority (58%) of consumers would like to receive an email reply within 2 hours, yet the average response time was 7 hours and 51 minutes.

Additionally, 85% of consumers surveyed expect an answer on Facebook within 6 hours but retailers took over 27 hours on average to respond. On Twitter the chasm was even greater - 64% of consumers demand an answer within 60 minutes, yet it took retailers on average over 31 hours to respond.

Customer service on chat was fast, yet frustrating. Responses were extremely quick (on average taking 4 minutes and 28 seconds) but only 35% of retailers were able to respond on the channel - despite 51% advertising it on their websites. Retailers must have the agents in place to staff chat sessions, if they are to engage with consumers efficiently.

The Study also measured cross-channel. Only 14% of retailers delivered similar responses to the same question across 4 or more channels and 33% were completely inconsistent, showing a failure to join-up the customer experience and make it seamless.