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How analysing social media interaction with customers is helping retailers stay ahead of competitors

The rise of social media over the past decade has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Today there are around 2.3bn active social media users*. Facebook alone has 1.71bn users, with 500,000 new users joining the network each day. Twitter has 1.3bn accounts, and while only 320m of those are active, 500m tweets are sent each day.

The growth of these platforms has inevitably had an impact on the retail industry. Consumer demands to interact with retailers on their own terms has led to many brands offering customer service support through social media channels - an estimated 91% of retail brands now use two or more of these channels.

According to a recent report by Dimension Data, 35% of all contact centre interactions are already digital and if growth continues at the current rate it will overtake telephone contact by 2017.

As the amount of customer interaction via social channels such as Twitter increases, retailers are faced with the challenge of establishing what good looks like. How quickly should they be responding to customers? How long should the conversations last? What is the most suitable channel on which to continue the conversation?

Social media analysis is helping retailers answer those questions and stay ahead of their competitors.

Take the example of the recent ‘Cyber Monday’. Over the past decade the Monday after the American Thanksgiving holiday and following Black Friday has established itself as a day on which many retailers offer great online deals. According to Fundivo, $2.9bn was spent online in the US on Cyber Monday 2015.

To gauge how UK retailers responded to customer questions on Cyber Monday 2016, Capita carried out an analysis of eight online retailers’ social media activity. This analysis demonstrates when customers and brands were tweeting, the topics being covered during retailer/customer interactions, and which brands were able to improve sentiment during a customer conversation.

Here are just some of the findings:

  • Response times are crucial – more customers would recommend a brand that offered a quick, but ‘ineffective’ response than one with a slower, but more useful solution
  • Care must be taken by retailers in moving social conversations to private ones – it can be seen as trying to hide something
  • Customer service was the most discussed topic in the social conversations analysed.

This article was first published by the British Retail Consortium.

*Statistics from Brandwatch.

Photo of Alan Linter

Alan Linter

Insight, analytics and improvement director

Using data and information to do things better has been the central theme running through my career. I started out as an operational leader, then moved into business systems and planning, and have spent more than a decade working in IT and shared services in the outsourcing sector. I joined Capita in 2004 as IT and Shared Services Director, with responsibility for all the new systems implementations carried out on behalf of clients and draws on my experience as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Practitioner, and a Net Promoter Associate. In my current role I am responsible for Capita Customer Management’s solution, insight, innovation and improvement function.

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