Are You Failing?


When it comes to social customer care, 92.5% of companies are failing, according to a study by Rational Interaction. Failing as in a big F! And you can’t grade customer service on a curve, says American customer service and experience expert Shep Hyken.

Shep Hyken Rational Interaction

Shep Hyken, Rational Interaction

It’s either good or it isn’t. It’s either stellar or mediocre, or even downright bad. Either you’re making your customer happy, or you’re not.

Rational Interaction collected data by analysing 76 brands across retail, healthcare and technology industries. It tracked activity over a seven-day period, using a 10% sample size of the collected data. As I read through the report, this is what came to mind:

There are about 310 million active Twitter users

These users send out more than 500 million tweets each day.

• Of those users, 67% have reached out to a brand to get help or service. That’s almost 208 million people who have complained or asked for help on Twitter

• 53% of these people (customers) expect a response within 60 minutes.

Here is what blows my mind…58% of the customers reaching out to the brands they do business with don’t get a response. Are you kidding me?

I recently noticed that a friend of mine complained on Twitter. I remember thinking, “This will be interesting.” Why? My friend, fellow customer service expert Jay Baer – author of Hug Your Haters – says, “Social customer service is a spectator sport.” I remember waiting for the social conversation between my friend and the company to begin. I waited and waited. It took hours for the company to get back to my buddy.

The implications from the report – as in the failing companies – are big. Thirty-eight percent of people will have a negative perception about a brand that doesn’t respond and 60% will tweet about their negative experiences. It used to be that the average complaining customer might tell eight to 12 people about a negative experience. That was before social media. Now it’s everyone they are connected with, and then others who their friends and followers are connected with, and on down the line.

You may or may not be familiar with Dave Carroll. He is a musician. His guitar was damaged on a United Airlines flight. He submitted a claim to have it repaired, but United denied the claim. He pleaded with them, and when he didn’t get the response he wanted, he did what any good, creative songwriter would do. He wrote a song about the experience. He titled it United Breaks Guitars and posted it on YouTube. This was his version of tweeting about the complaint or posting it on Facebook. The result is that more than 16 million people have viewed this complaint!

With Rational Interaction’s stats and facts in hand, how can you afford not to take a closer look at social media customer service?

Here are six ideas on how to deliver amazing service through social media:

  1. If you haven’t started a social customer care programme, then start. It’s not too late.
  2. If you’re wondering about which channels you should monitor, it’s not that hard to decide. Be where your customers are. Wherever your customers are posting, that’s where you need to have a presence.
  3. Respond quickly. Response time is huge. You can see from the statistics cited earlier in this article that customers expect a fairly quick response when they post socially. A study by Eptica showed that the average response time from brands on Twitter was seven hours and 12 minutes. That said, get an idea of how well some of the top retail brands respond.
  4. Consider a separate ‘brand handle’ to support your customers. For example, on Twitter, Nike’s brand handle is @Nike, but in addition, they have created another handle to manage customer service, which is @NikeSupport.
  5. Your initial response to a complaint should be a public response. Let the world know you responded quickly and you care. Then take the conversation to a private forum. Once the situation is resolved, go back to the original post and leave a comment, thanking the customer for the opportunity to fix the problem.
  6. Respond to every post or comment from a customer, not just complaints. Social customer care should include discussion about general comments as well. Engage with your community at every opportunity, good and bad. More engagement is always good.

Shep Hyken is a keynote speaker and bestselling author. Follow him on Twitter: @Hyken.