Brand giants such as Apple, Pepsi and Visa receive thousands upon thousands of messages per day on Twitter and it’s not reasonable for them to respond to everything. However, they should utilize a method or process for selecting the most important messages and responding positively and efficiently.
Software Advice completed a research project recently to test this assertion. I chose 14 top brands in seven industries and wanted to know if they could pick out customer service requests in basic categories – high purchase intent, risk of switching, negative sentiment, and positive sentiment, among other important question types.
The experiment – dubbed The Great Social Customer Service Race – yielded some really compelling results. Primarily, that even the nation’s biggest companies haven’t quite figured out customer service on Twitter. They responded to just 14 percent of the 280 messages we sent over four weeks.
Many Brands Left Us Hanging
Despite winning the matchup for response rate and time to respond, Coca-Cola committed a huge error when one reply came four days after the question was sent:
Our analyst Kyle Lagunas had a similar experience when he asked about McDonalds delivery to a business.
Taking four days to respond to a straightforward question “is basically the same as not replying at all,” says Anna Drennan, the marketing manager for social listening software Conversocial, especially when you consider most customers expect a response within two hours.
Instead, if your customer service agent knows the response will take longer, or needs to be escalated, they should use a placeholder. For example “I’m looking into this now! I will get back pronto! – AV.”
They Missed Messages with Important Triggers
When we designed questions for the race, we specifically included questions with important intent, sentiment or risk of switching brands. Consider these examples:
Social listening software can be programmed to send service messages to the front of the line if they contain keywords such as “help,” or “thank you.” These rules are imperative for brands that need to automate tweet prioritization.
Many of the Brands Were Robotic
Customer service expert, best-selling author and speaker Micah Solomon told me recently that being human in your engagements with customers on Twitter is one of the most important considerations. Twitter is a social platform, your responders need to talk and act like they would interact with their real friends and family.
In this example, the responder used their signature with “^SP” but didn’t respond with a “your welcome” after Brittany took the time to thank them for responding. Additionally, the link wasn’t particularly helpful in answering the query.
Listen for Your Brand, @ or No @
HP won the consumer technology matchup because Apple didn’t respond at all. But HP failed to respond to every tweet mentioning HP without the @. Both brands missed this high purchase-intent tweet on four occasions:
The social customer service innovators watch and respond to non-@ mentions because they see the opportunity to really surprise and delight. Most social listening software can be programed to listen for mentions without the @, with the @, and #brandname.
Social Support Still Not the Norm
When I started this project, I assumed that if any company was ahead in the social customer service game, it would be a major brand from this group. Whether the issue is one of strategy or technology, brands are still far from meeting customers’ expectations on Twitter.
View the results of our experiment in this Infographic
About Ashley Verrill
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst with Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.