Thought Leadership

Study: Retailers Struggle to Deliver Consistent Multichannel Customer Service

Twitter and Facebook have been around for a decade, and email much longer, yet companies still are delivering inconsistent customer service through those channels, according to a new study from Eptica, a provider of multichannel customer engagement software.

Eptica’s latest customer experience study focused on U.K.-based retailers and consumers. Researchers tested retailers on their ability to answer basic customer service questions in a timely and accurate manner. UK companies successfully answered 59% of questions on Facebook, 55% via email, and 45% via Twitter. However, only 10% of companies were able to deliver consistent responses across the three channels.

This new report offered an opportunity to compare data to an earlier Eptica study of U.S. retailers’ multichannel customer service performance. In the U.S., the best performing of the three channels is email, with 73% of inquiries answered, followed by Facebook at 54% and Twitter at 20%.

Additionally, there was a significant contrast between response times in the three channels. For example, it took an average of 7 hours and 51 minutes for U.S. companies to respond to consumers via email–on average, U.K. retailers took more than a day to respond to customers’ emails, with a 32 hour and 53 minute response time.

The following chart reveals more details of response performance between U.K. and U.S. retailers.

Olivier Njamfa, Eptica’s CEO and co-founder, said it seems that U.S. and U.K. retailers are charting different courses for customer service via these non-voice channels.

“What the Eptica research demonstrates is that retailers in the UK and US are focusing on specific channels, rather than adopting a truly multichannel approach that delivers high levels of service, whatever the customer’s channel of choice, Njamfa said. “Companies need to learn from each other and deliver a consistent experience if they are to thrive in increasingly global markets.”

The research uncovered another problem for U.K. customers: retailers delivered inconsistent answers. No companies were able to offer a consistently accurate response to a sample question across all four channels (email, Facebook, Twitter, and chat). Only 10 percent were consistent across three channels. Almost 70 percent of companies were inconsistent when more than one channel was used. For example, an entertainment retailer responded to a question on Facebook within six minutes but took 152 hours to answer the same question by email.

The full study is available for download at this link:

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