Figures from the 2015 Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study suggest email response has declined in retail since 2014, in speed of reply and accuracy, while Twitter response has considerably improved. UK retailers seem to be only answering just over half (55%) of customer questions asked by email. In the past emails averaged at receiving an 8 hour response time. Between 2014 and 2015 this has been seen to increase to 43 hours 52 minutes! Tweets however were shown to have been answered in an average of 4 hours 5 minutes, more than double the speed of 2014’s 13 hours 10 minutes.
In the same period the percentage of retailers successfully answering a query sent via email was shown to have dropped from 63% to 58% whereas 43% of tweets received a successful reply which was 10% higher than 2014. The web remains the strongest channel for customer service in retail, with 65% of answers to queries being found on company websites.
The study, carried out by multichannel customer interaction management software provider Eptica, evaluated 40 leading UK retailers in the sectors of food & wine, consumer electronics, entertainment and fashion. Furthering research begun in 2011 it reproduced consumer behaviour by measuring their ability to provide answers to 10 routine questions via the web as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter and web chat.
Sales Director for Eptica UK and Ireland Julian Sammells commented: “With e-commerce sales breaking the £100 billion mark in 2014, digital channels are now central to the success of retailers, whatever sector they are in. Unfortunately the study found that there has been little improvement in how retailers are performing compared to 2014, with a major drop in email speed and wider gaps between best and worst.”
Though improvements were seen, Twitter also suffered showed a shortfall in what seemed to be offered versus actual performance. Whilst 88% of retailers were on the network only 43% successfully responded to tweets. 45% didn’t answer, implying consideration for managing the growing demands of the channel had not been put in place.
Of those that did respond there were a wide range of results. Two food and drink retailers replied to a tweet in 2 minutes, while a fashion retailer took over 35 hours. The entertainment sector replied to just 10% of tweets, while electronics retailers reached 60%. Overall retail saw a 5% advance in performance on the web since last year, answering 65% of questions. While fashion retail fell behind banking, it did provide answers to 78% of questions. Entertainment again scored lowest at 52% (the same as in 2014).
While 25% of retailers claimed to offer Chat, just 5% of companies had it working when tested, a drop from 8% in 2014. All the retailers with Chat working successfully answered queries raised with them. The average time of the session increased from 4 minutes in 2014 to 5 minutes 30 in 2015.
Here are some great examples of customer service replies on Twitter: