23 of the World’s Top 100 Brands Have a Dedicated Twitter Customer Service Handle

December 11, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Brand Metrics | Customer Service & Experience | Data-driven | Digital | PR | Social Media

The world’s top 100 brands (according to Interbrand) are almost universally using Twitter, although far fewer are actively engaging in customer service over the platform, details Simply Measured in a December study. The study finds that while 95 of the top 100 brands are active on Twitter, less than a quarter of those (23) have a dedicated customer service handle, and only 15 respond to 10 or more tweets per day on such a handle.

Digging deeper into levels of engagement, the numbers dip even lower. Just 7 brands respond to 50 or more tweets per day on a dedicated customer service handle, and only 3 respond to 100 or more tweets.

The report suggests that while these levels are low, they are growing. Indeed, social care is making its way into industries perceived as more traditional in nature. A recent study by MarketingCharts on personal lines insurance marketing, for example, cites data from Corporate Insight indicating that large insurers such as GEICO, Progressive, Sun Life, and Travelers each offer a dedicated Twitter account for customer service.

Top Response Times Average Under 2 Hours

Looking at the top 10 brands by Twitter customer service handle engagement, the Simply Measured study finds that the most responsive handles, UPS (1.1 hours) and American Express (1.8 hours) have an average response time of less than 2 hours. The slowest responders, BlackBerry and HP, are far less proactive in their response time, at an average of 12.5 hours and 30.2 hours, respectively. (Average response time is defined as “the average time between an inbound tweet and an @reply from the customer service handle or collection of handles.”)

BlackBerry might blame its high level of engagement. #BlackBerryHelp saw 43,800 incoming mentions over the 3-month period of analysis, equating to more than 470 tweets per day. HP, though, with its slow response time, cannot point to that level of engagement: #HPSupport saw just 3,800 incoming mentions in the same quarter.

Behind BlackBerry, Nike (24,500), American Express (21,400), Samsung (15,400), and Dell (10,000) saw the highest number of incoming mentions.

Nike Has Best Response Rate

Of the 23 brands with a dedicated customer service handle, Nike led the pack in response rate (percentage of inbound tweets and @mentions that a brand or collection of brands respond to), at 74%, which the study notes equals almost 25,000 tweets over 3 months. Ford (68%) and Microsoft (64%) were the next on the list, as the top third averaged a 61% response rate. The middle third, led by Adobe (52%), averaged a response rate of 39%, while the bottom third averaged just 17%. At the bottom of the list was BlackBerry again, with a response rate of just 3%.

The study emphasizes the importance of taking customer service on Twitter seriously, noting that “a late reply can mean the difference between a happy return customer and a bitter consumer rapid-firing complaints about your brand.” Research from American Express (which had one of the better response times, but one of the lower response rates) has highlighted the opportunities and risks present in customer service over social media. In May, American Express released survey results showing that people who have used social media for customer service are likely to tell more people about a good experience than the general population – but they’ll also tell more people about a bad experience.

Other Findings:

  • According to Simply Measured, across the 23 brands with a dedicated customer service handle, the top third averaged a response time of 1.8 hours, while the bottom third averaged a response time of 20.9 hours. Cisco was the worst performer, with an average response time of more than 50 hours.
  • Mentions and responses followed the same pattern on a hourly basis during the day, peaking during US business hours. However, while responses almost flatlined during the evening hours, mention volumes did not drop off substantially.
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