Thought Leadership

Email the Top Performer in Retail Multichannel Customer Service

Many retailers provide multichannel customer service through non-voice channels, including social media, email, and webchat. But which channel is best for serving customers? Eptica – Email Beats Social Media As Best Channel For Customer Service In Retail, email takes the crown.

The study surveyed 500 U.S. retailers on their proficiency in answering 10 common, industry-specific questions through Facebook, Twitter, the web, chat, and email. It measured the speed, accuracy, and consistency of replies across each channel. Also, 1,000 consumers were asked about their wait time expectations for each channel.

Email responses to customer inquiries were significantly higher than in other channels. Retailers answered 73% of emails, while only 20% of questions were answered over Twitter and 54% through Facebook messages.

When it came to wait-time expectations, retailers and consumers had big differences. 58% of consumers expected an email reply within 2 hours, but email responses averaged 7 hours and 51 minutes. However, responses over email were significantly faster than on social media.

Communication through Facebook and Twitter performed poorly. Most consumers expect a reply through Facebook within 6 hours, yet response times averaged 27 hours. Customer service replies over Twitter took an average of 31 hours when consumers expected a reply within an hour.

Performance among retailers was inconsistent. According to the study, four retailers replied to consumer inquiries within a minute on Facebook; whereas four took over 20 days to respond. Eptica found one retailer answered 100% of the questions, but another answered only 10%. Customer experience varied among industries. Retailers in the flowers and gifts sector performed well answering email questions. In contrast, retailers in the automotive and accessories industry only answered half of the customers’ questions.

Webchat also presented interesting results. Inquiries through this channel were relatively fast, yet some customer service challenges remained. Chat replies took an average of 4 minutes, and 28 seconds. However, of the 51% of retailers who advertised chat for customer service, only 35% replied to customer inquiries.

Many of these retailers promise excellent customer service through multichannel options yet fail to deliver. Companies must be fully staffed and consistent in handling customer service questions through email, social media, and webchat.

Other key findings of this study include:

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