More than 80 per cent of customer social media requests are going unanswered by retailers

More than 80 per cent of customer social media requests are going unanswered by retailers

One of the worst mistakes you can make on social media is ignoring your customers. However, the vast majority of retailers are guilty of this cardinal sin according to a new Sprout Social Study.

The Sprout Social’s Q4 2015 Index has revealed that retailers failed to respond to more than 80 per cent of consumer questions and requests on social media in the last year. What’s more, merchants were particularly bad at replying during the Christmas shopping season, with only 16.35 per cent of customer queries actually answered in Q4 2014.

Although this is somewhat understandable, as there was a 21 per cent increase in the number of social media messages sent to retailers from the third to the fourth quarter, it also proves that merchants weren’t adequately prepared to deal with Christmas shopping related issues.

However, Sprout Social expects the same trend to continue this year, predicting that the average retailer will get more than 1,500 messages on Facebook and Twitter, but only respond to five out of every six.

Time to re-think social media priorities

It is fair to say that most customers turn to social media for a quick answer to their question. However, retailers are struggling with this basic need too, as the average response time in the Sprout Social Index is 12 hours.

But this is rather puzzling, because the very same companies are incredibly active on social media. It’s just that they are sending three times more promotional messages than replying to customer questions. Therefore, it could be time for retailers to re-think their social media priorities.

Sprout Social believes that a more personalised approach can have favourable knock-on effects as well. Citing another study, it says that people are seven times more likely to respond to promotions after a brand interacts with them in a meaningful way.

“Social media is an integral part of consumers’ daily lives and a critical communication channel for brands to engage in conversation with their customers during the holidays,” said Sprout Social CMO Scott Brandt.

“Whether answering a product question or confirming a customer’s gift order, brands have an opportunity to positively influence awareness, customer loyalty, positive sentiment and seasonal sales through social media engagement.”

Behavioural differences between Facebook and Twitter

Despite the fact that seven per cent more consumer requests were sent on Facebook than Twitter in the third quarter, which is the first time these two social networks have switched in terms of average inbound messages, retailers haven’t reacted to the change.

Instead, they sent out 114 per cent more messages on Twitter over the past six months, outpacing the 100 per cent increase on Facebook.

“It’s worth taking a deeper look at customer service on Facebook since it is generally where people are seeking answers from retailers,” Sprout Social noted. “Bottom line: You should be able to improve your response rates and times if you understand where people are reaching out to your brand in the greatest numbers.”

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