Customers Expect Great Online Support, Quickly

December 12, 2011

cmo-council-online-customer-support-expectations-dec11.gif46% of consumers expect great customer support online from the brands they love, and a further 33% say that a commitment to excellent customer service is a significant factor in their loyalty to the brand, according to [download page] a study released in December 2011 by the CMO Council. Data from “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” also indicates that consumers are more willing to praise a company for good support (14%) than to complain about it to friends when it is not available (4%).

However, consumers want rapid feedback: 41% said they expect their issues to be addressed either immediately (22%) or within an hour (19%). A further 47% expect feedback within 24 hours, while the remaining 12% appear willing to wait up to a few days.

Some of those consumers might be disappointed when engaging with large retailers on Facebook: according to a November white paper from ConverSocial, among the 10 most loved and hated retailers in the US on social media, the majority ignored more inquiries on their Facebook pages than responded within 30 minutes during a 5-day period of investigation in September. Among the brands studied, most responded within 1 to 4 hours, but none averaged under an hour. In fact, not even half displayed an average response time of under 4 hours.

Online Channels Best for Help, Communication

77% of consumers responding to the CMO Council survey say they go to a company’s website to search its content when seeking answers, product, or troubleshooting, while 63% say they search online to connect with people who have similar issues to them. A similar proportion report searching online for product experts (44%) as do going to the company website and filling out a service request (44%). Direct contact is less popular, though: just 29% go to a store or office location to speak with someone about their issue, while only one-quarter phone the company.

The same pattern is evident when seeking to communicate with a brand: sending an email (65%) and filling out a form on the company website (50%) are more popular than calling a customer service line (44%) or visiting a retail location (25%). Consumers appear to shy away from social media channels for communication, though: only one-third said they post on the brand’s Facebook page, 29% post on their own Facebook page, and 12% Tweet.

SocNet Connections Based on Participation, Interest

The leading reasons consumers cite for connecting with brands on Facebook and other social networks are to participate in games, promotions, and contests (65%) and to learn about new products (55%). Consumers appear again more likely to praise than complain: 32% say they connect with brands to say something nice about a great experience, compared to 8% who say they do so to complain about a bad experience.

Consumers Like Out of Loyalty, Expect Offers

cmo-council-reasons-to-like-brands-on-facebook-dec11.gifThe top reasons consumers cite for liking brands on Facebook are because they are loyal customers (49%), they want to track brand news (46%), they are looking for incentives or rewards for engaging with the brand (46%), and they are looking for special savings or events (43%).

Consumers expect a reward for their loyalty, though: two-thirds expect to be eligible for exclusive offers after liking a brand on Facebook, while roughly 3 in 5 expect to interact with other customers and share their experiences or find games, contests, and other unique experiences. Half also say they expect to find service and support.

These findings are similar to the results of an ExactTarget survey released in November, which found that the leading expectation for US consumers after liking a brand on Facebook was to gain access to exclusive content, events, or sales (58%).

4 in 5 Discovering Discounts

When asked to identify some of the new ways in which they are using social media this year, 79% of consumers cited taking advantage of special offers and discounts, making it by far the leading reason, ahead of playing games, entering contests, and downloading special applications offered by their favorite brands (60%). A majority also said they are now using social media to follow brands on Twitter and/or like them on Facebook (52%), as well as to share their experiences with the products they use (51%).

Other Findings

  • 4 in 5 consumers say social media has increased the likelihood of them trying new things based on friends’ suggestions. 3 in 4 also say they are more likely to encourage their friends to try new products, while 72% say they are more likely to stay more engaged with the brands they like. About one-third say they are more likely not to buy certain products because they learned of a negative customer experience.
  • The majority of consumers say their social media brand experiences have been positive: 40% said their last experience was good, though they wanted more, while 34% said the experience was exactly what they expected and more.

About the Data: The CMO Council data is based on a survey of more than 1300 consumers, 49% of whom were under 34 years old. Respondents had an average of 546 friends and the average respondent followed up to 61 brands on Facebook. Respondents also had an average of 94 Twitter followers and the average respondent followed 36 brands using Twitter.

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