By Sarah Stealey Reed, content director and senior analyst at ICMI
In 2012, Gartner made a bold statement about social media customer service. "Organizations that refuse to communicate with customers by social media will face the same level of wrath as those that ignore today's basic expectation that they will respond to emails and phone calls." Now, there is no denying that social media is an integral part of our culture. The numbers change so rapidly, but recent statistics show astronomical activity across the social media landscape - 1.23 billion Facebook users, 187 million unique visitors to LinkedIn each month, and 500 million tweets sent daily. Then of course there is explosive growth across Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, WhatsApp... you get the idea. Companies clearly recognize the marketing opportunity that social media provides. Yet in an often-cited study by evolve24, a Maritz Research company that specializes in social media analytics, they found that approximately 70% of customer service complaints made on Twitter are ignored. And for those who do receive a response, the times are slow. A 2013 study by eDigital Research reported that 80% of social media responses took an average of 12 hours. In the aforementioned 2012 Gartner article, they went on to say that, "For organizations that use social media to promote their products, responding to inquiries via social media channels will be the new minimum level of response expected." Edwin Margulies, the vice president of social and mobile product management at Five9 refers to this as the 'normalization of social'. Essentially, social as a customer care channel is naturally becoming more commonplace. It sounds like there is a discrepancy happening, as the 'new minimum level of response expected' and the 'normalization of social' is certainly not social care reality. In a February 2014 survey on preferences and behaviors of social media customer service, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that while 73% of organizations report having a social media presence, only 39.3% formally supports social media as a customer care channel. That's not to say that 60.7% of companies NEVER respond to their customers through social channels. Rather, we see that another 20% are communicating socially with customers, but do so on a sporadic, emergency, or ad hoc basis. This new ICMI research underwritten by Five9, focuses on an often-overlooked aspect of social customer care. ICMI was interested to compare the preferences of contact center leaders as social media users, against their behaviors as providers of social customer service. Where are the discrepancies? Why are there disparities? And can this knowledge be used to better convince organizations to provide the 'new minimum level of response expected' for social media? With 68% saying that social media is a necessary customer service channel it is obvious that contact center leaders still need assistance with strategy and implementation. Other Key Findings:
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