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SURVEY: UK retail delivers poor Twitter customer service

By Retail Technology | Wednesday July 9 2014

New research found that email was a more effective customer service channel than social media for top UK retailers

UK retailers are improving their email customer service but failing to deliver on Twitter, according to a recent survey.

The research conducted by multichannel software provider Eptica, evaluated 40 leading UK retailers split between 4 sectors (food & wine, consumer electronics, entertainment and fashion). 

It replicated consumer behaviour by measuring those retailers on their ability to provide answers to ten routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter and web chat.

Twitter stragglers

The results showed that retailers answered just 33% of tweets successfully during the study. This compares to a success rate of 63% of email questions answered and 60% of routine queries from websites.

Eight out of ten retailers in the sample were on Twitter, although only 33% responded successfully to tweeted questions. The average Twitter response time was 13 hours 10 minutes, not helped by one electronics retailer taking over 76 hours to answer. By contrast, that retailer answered an email query in 7 minutes. Removing this straggler more than halved the Twitter average to 6 hours 44 minutes.

Email improvement

Email saw noticeable improvements. 75% of retailers responded to a question sent to them, though less than two thirds (63%) answered it successfully. The speed of email response has improved to an average time of 35 hours and 43 minutes – over one day less than the average email response time (66 hours 52 minutes) in a similar Eptica study in 2012.

At the time of the research, just 3 of the retail companies (8%) had web chat deployed, although others advertised it on their web sites and simply did not have it working at the time or have introduced it subsequently. Those that did offer chat, principally electronics retailers, benefited from its speed and flexibility – 83% of interactions received satisfactory answers in an average time of 4 minutes.

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