Research has shown that despite the hype around social media, consumers much prefer more traditional methods of communication, such as telephone and email, when it comes to customer service queries.

The research, commissioned for the ‘British business – at your service?’ whitepaper by technology consultancy Portal, revealed that social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook are in fact the least favoured method of communicating with a business regarding customer service for a third (31 per cent) of Brits. Just two per cent claimed that the new median is their preferred method, while email and telephone enquiries were far more popular, with 52 and 19 per cent of respondents respectively stating that they are their favoured channels.

Shamus Kelly, CEO of Portal, said “Our research revealed some startling statistics. We suspect that social media platforms aren’t taking off as favoured customer service channels because more often than not, complaints are too complex to explain in a short post.

“Our experience is that consumers resort to platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as a last resort, using them as platforms to publically condemn a brand following a frustrating experience, rather than a first port of call. There are of course customers at the other end of the spectrum that use social media to openly praise companies as well, but the point is that these consumers are not attempting to solve customer service queries over the medium.”

With 82 per cent of firms in the UK admitting that they do not actively monitor their brand’s reputation on social media sites, it seems that consumer sentiment on the subject also mirrors British businesses’ approach to social media.

For almost half (42 per cent) of businesses, face to face interactions are preferred for solving customer service queries, while a third (32 per cent) ideally solve problems over email. This is in stark contrast to social media, with just 3 per cent of businesses stating that the medium is their preferred platform for customer service interactions.

Portal’s whitepaper also revealed that poor customer service is contributing to a £4.35 billion loss to UK businesses due to customer ‘churn’, with over half (52 per cent) of British consumers admitting that they have sought an alternative supplier at least once as a direct result of a poor customer service experience.



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