The instant gratification of social media has really changed the expectations of customers in terms of customer service satisfaction. People are using social media to communicate with businesses, and while this might sound great and exactly what businesses want, most businesses aren't ready to handle it. 42% of customers expect to hear back from businesses on social media within an hour of their reaching out to them. The average response time of the top 100 US retailers, though, doesn't reflect this. The average response time for the top 100 US retailers on Facebook is 1 business day, and on Twitter, it's a little over 11 hours. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to learn more about how social media is having an effect on customer service, and ways to improve your customer service experience to handle these newly realized expectations.

TRANSCRIPTION: Hello, and welcome to our Daily Brown Bag. Today we want to talk about customer service and social media and some of the big changes that social media is bringing about. I’m Chad Hill and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. We’re continuing our investigation into social media customer service. I released a piece this weekend on Search Engine Watch entitled, “Google Penguin Got You Down? Work on Customer Service,” which seems to have some traction. This is a departure from our normal SEO Reseller reports but frankly the expectations people have for customer service through social channels impacts all business owners. We’re diving into the social media aspects of customer service satisfaction, and there’s some fascinating stuff here.

Here’s a story from September that caught our attention this morning. This is a business person who, after receiving no email response from British Airways, went and paid over $1,000 out of pocket to Twitter to do promoted tweets about his unhappy experience and lack of email response from British Airways. As far as we know, this is the first time a regular person, not a brand, used the promotional tweet platform to get their attention and really broadcast their dissatisfaction with social media customer service. It’s a fascinating story, and it made us think we should dig a little deeper into this topic and share it with our internet marketing community.

Here’s a stat from Edison Research that found that 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think that should be within 30 minutes. Chad, I think these are some really fascinating statistics, just showing you where the expectations are for responsiveness in social media, and of course we know our small business customers and the community that serves them probably are really not there. Let’s open the discussion today with some of the things we can recommend to the folks watching.

Yeah, well I think the first one, of course, is to monitor social media and that we have to all be doing it. What’s really interesting here, and we were discussing this before jumping on the video today, is how the tables turned on customer service. It used to be people calling into big call centers and being number, and now it’s really flipped around to where Twitter has set the rules on what is an acceptable social customer service experience and how quickly it needs to happen, which is really hard for a lot of businesses to deal with, because there are hierarchies, and the the guy who’s answering a tweet may not be fully empowered or even have all the information to make a quick turnaround. But, when you take and turn this to a small business really the first place is a way to monitor what’s going on in social media.

Again, many of our customers have started to change why they’re interested in social media away from “How do I get a bunch of followers and drive business from it?” to “How do I manage my reputation online and make sure that I can respond to this customer service?” which, again, starts with monitoring. The second thing is that you need to have a set of rules and processes for your staff. So, if you’re a super small business and it’s just you, then of course you can quickly process that. But, a lot of times, and we even see this here at Semify, sometimes somebody has a complaint and people get kind of scared of it. You need to build a culture in your organization that you don’t get scared of a customer complaint. You empower your employees to be able to quickly respond and then, if needed, note that they’re responding but need to escalate in order to get a better answer. So, don’t be afraid of saying, “I’m giving you some immediate feedback and here’s the next place to go.”

The final thing is, of course, responding in a timely manner, so even when you do have the escalation process, you need to make sure that you do conclude that response within a set period of time. I've seen, when we've had some issues come in, people say, “Well, I’m going to go back and actually respond and say, ‘Semify took care of this issue,’” and I think that's an appropriate thing to do. It shows that you’re closing the loop. So, Adam, what do you see out there?

I think those are excellent points for prescription for small business. Again, quoting this Edison Research study, 57% of responders felt that the response time should be the same during weekends and weeknights as it is during business hours. That supports your idea, Chad, that expectations for customer service satisfaction are shifting. If you don’t want to throw stones at the Edisons, today, we’ve got another one here. Lithium Technology also did a study and they found that 53% of consumers who interact with a brand via Twitter expect a response within one hour, confirming some of the stats from the Edison research.

So, I don’t think these numbers are off, and I think our anecdotal evidence from ourselves and from our reseller community support what these studies are telling us. I think you’re right Chad, so many small businesses are not even monitoring what’s going on, so that is step one. But, as you say, that’s only going to uncover what’s going on out there and that these expectations are where the public are. It falls on you to do training and staffing and to get people to be able to respond and make sure they’re empowered to resolve these issues. So, I think if it’s not on your radar, it needs to be.

We’d be very interested in your stories, both good and bad. We hear a lot of good ones about, “Oh, I got some business from social media and it’s a great way to broadcast out,” but particularly on the social customer service angle, share some of your stories on what you found has been effective for managing these expectations, for hitting fast turnaround times, and for resolving issues. I’d particularly be interested if people do come back and say, “Hey, nice job!” as you suggested, Chad, or if they’re just using this as a bully pulpit. As always, we’re here every day doing the Brown Bags, so if you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.