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Retailers’ Customer Service on Social Media Lacking

83% of Customer Service Request are Ignored by Retailers

It’s no surprise that retailers receive more social messages during the holiday season than any other time of the year. In Q4 2014, the retail industry was hit with its biggest influx of inbound social messages, a 21% increase over the previous quarter. If the same trend continues, the average retailer can expect more than 1,500 messages during the holiday season this year according the Sprout Social Index.
Despite increasing demands, most brands are not prepared to keep up on social. This time last year, retailers answered only 16.35% of the messages they received from their customers—the lowest response rate for the industry in all of 2014. Of course, an increase in social messages likely yields a lower response rate.

Based on data from the past five quarters, The Sprout Social Index anticipates that this holiday season, most people can expect to be ignored as well.

Even retailers that regularly answer questions on social media struggle with the concept. People expect quick answers — one of the reasons why they turn to social media — but the average response time for retailers is 12 hours.

The report also found some interesting results comparing retailers use of Facebook and Twitter. Retailers in the study received 7% more requests on Facebook than on Twitter in the third quarter. As the chart below shows, it’s the first time requests on the social network exceeded Twitter.


Retailers seem to have misplaced their attention, they are sending out more messages on Twitter—144% more than they did just 6 months ago. They’re also sending out more messages on Facebook, just not at the same clip—only 2 times as many as they did within that same 6-month time period.
On a positive note, merchants’ response rates were better than most. The overall rate of response in the 15 industry categories was 11%, and retail was second only to utilities.
You can download the full Sprout Social Index for free here.