So what do consumers want? Fast complaints response or good behaviour?
Now that no-one sends actual letters anymore, if consumers want to deal with a retailer, they will generally do it by electronic means. However, given that everyone in the entire world now uses social media religiously, many companies are concentrating on their social media response times, leaving their email response times lagging sorely behind.
Reports earlier this year that over half of consumers expect a social media response within four hours . According to analytics company Simply Measured, the average response time to complaints made on Twitter is 5.1 hours, with the top 10% of companies answering within one hour.
However, a new report from KANA software claims that companies are assuming customers are all turning to social media, whereas in reality, “many customers still want to keep using email and continue to do so in significant volume.” This diversion of resources to social media means that email response times are falling short- with 59% of businesses taking more than eight hours (one working day) to respond to customer queries and 26.5% taking over 24 hours.
KANA are worried for these slow companies, claiming slow response rates can lead to customer disaffection, or even defection, as well as the potential for damage to brand reputation if service delays or failings become public. Probably via social media.
But is social media reputation king for consumers, or is it social responsibility? While one side of brand reputation is minimising unhappy customers, the flip side is getting customers to shout about how good your business is. New research from the Reputation Institute claims that companies who are seen as ‘good citizens’ are more than 2.5 times more likely to have consumers “go out of their way” to say something good about the company, than those with a less impressive social responsibility reputation.
“In a world where word of mouth is becoming your number one marking tool, this is a key business driver that companies need to leverage better,” ruminated the Reputation Institute.
The research interviewed 55,000 people from 15 countries and came up with the top socially responsible global companies. The top 4 companies tied for first place, and were Microsoft, Walt Disney, Google, and BMW.
Given Google’s tax dodging reputation in Europe, this might seem a strange result, despite the fact that 6 European countries were included in the sample. When a similar survey was conducted in the UK market in 2012, the winner was Marks and Spencer, closely followed by Rolls Royce and Dyson. Even stranger perhaps, given allegations of tax-dodging and poor conditions for foreign workers, Apple came in at number 9 most socially responsible company.
What was that famous quotation about statistics again?