NEW YORK — The ways in which the largest U.S. retail brands address the needs of their customers on Facebook and Twitter were unveiled last week in a white paper — Safeway and Sears topped charts; Costco, Kmart, Kroger and Walmart were found wanting, according to Conversocial, a software company that develops social media tools.
“These are real customer service issues and, if not immediately addressed, they won't be going away any time soon,” stated Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial. “Either these retailers will incur the cost of more customer complaints, or worse yet, they’ll potentially lose a customer. Either way, it’s safe to conclude that customers will increasingly talk about their experience via social media.”
According to the paper, while large retailers are showing an awareness of the challenges posed by social media, reflected in fast average response times, they still are falling short on missing complaints. Missing genuine complaints and questions in posts and comments was quite high and represents a potential pitfall for retailers in the sample. Walmart, the largest retailer in the sample, missed 40% of all customer service inquiries, while Costco, Kmart and Kroger missed 100%. Conversely, Safeway did well, missing only 5% of posts.
Those retailers with a larger volume of complaints — Sears, Walmart and Safeway — were quickest to respond. Safeway was the best retailer in terms of dealing with the full complaint on the wall. While the company still redirected some complaints to a Facebook dedicated email and a Freephone number, a significant number of conversations about customer satisfaction were handled on social media outlets, Conversocial stated.
The companies sampled by Conversocial were based on a list of most loved and hated brands, measured according to positive and negative mentions on social media, in a public study by Amplicate, which collects consumer opinions posted on social media. Conversocial reviewed the retailers’ Facebook pages over a period of five working days from Sept. 15 to 21 to assess how quickly, and how often, those retailers responded to complaints and questions. The company awarded scores of 0 to 5 for each response and took an average for each retailer.
The research, titled "Who’s Ignoring Their Customers?: A Survey Of The Largest U.S. Retailers and Their Use of Social Media," is available here.