Whilst multichannel retailing means consumers can shop round the clock, new research from retail technology company Retail Assist reveals that not all retailers are matching this with 24 x 7 customer service and social media support to meet consumer expectations.
In research that examined the customer service and social media presence of 50 top UK retailers, Retail Assist found that only 10% of retailers provided round the clock support for consumers with Amazon, Coast, Karen Millen, Next, Oasis and Paperchase, offering 24 x 7 customer service.
The research found that every retailer, included in the top 50 retailers, has tapped into social media as an important consumer engagement platform, with 100% presence on Facebook and 95% coverage on Twitter. However, whilst 25% of retailers have recognised that Twitter can act as a fast route to respond to customer queries by establishing a dedicated Twitter customer service @handle, the research found that the majority of retailers are still only offering limited customer service availability. On average retailers are providing customer service availability for 62 of the 168 possible hours each week, which essentially means that retailers can only respond to consumer enquires for 36% of the time that customers could be shopping.
As part of the research Retail Assist submitted an easy to answer question to every retailers Facebook page. Aldi, Boots and Waterstones all responded to the enquiry within 5 minutes. On average retailers took around four hours to respond to a customer service post and 10% of retailers never responded to the consumer question posed at all.
Alan Morris, Executive Chairman of Retail Assist comments: "This research shows that retailers could be under utilising the technology that is out there to help them engage with customers and deliver great customer service. Social media is making retailers more accessible than ever and consumers expect to be able to engage with retailers whenever and wherever they want. Retailers have the responsibility of providing quality and timely customer service – consumers can shop 24×7, therefore they expect retailers to be available 24×7 too."
"When consumer's use social media to flag up customer service problems they are broadcasting problems to their own peers, which can damage retailer's reputations. The research found that Amazon, Argos, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Homebase, John Lewis, Next, New Look, Oasis, River Island and Sports Direct have all established a separate twitter customer service channel which helps point customer problems away from the brand's main social media channel. However, in general it seems that many retailers could be using technology more effectively to ensure that their 24×7 omnichannel retail operations are reflected in their social media and customer services outlets."