Email beats social media as best channel for customer service in retail: US retailers only answer 20% of questions sent through Twitter finds Eptica Study.

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Email delivers the fastest and most accurate customer service in US retail, far exceeding social media and other channels, according to new research from multichannel customer engagement software provider Eptica.

Recently released, the 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study evaluated 500 US retailers on their ability to provide answers to routine questions via email, the web, chat, Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, 1,000 American consumers were polled on how long they were willing to wait for responses on these channels.

US retailers surveyed could only answer 20% of questions sent via Twitter and 54% of Facebook messages--in contrast, they replied successfully to nearly three quarters (73%) of emails received. Only around two thirds (65%) of answers to routine questions could be found on company websites.

Email responses were over 3 times faster on average than social media but there was a clear gap between retailer performance and consumer expectations. 58% of consumers would like to receive an email reply within 2 hours, yet the average response time was 7 hours and 51 minutes.

85% of consumers surveyed expect an answer on Facebook within 6 hours but retailers took an average of over a full day to respond (over 27 hours on average). On Twitter the chasm was even greater - 64% of consumers demand an answer within 60 minutes, yet it took retailers on average over 31 hours to respond.

"For me the Eptica Study proved that, for many retailers, customer service is just talk--or actually lack of it," said Shep Hyken, customer experience expert and writer of the 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study's foreword. "Don't promise me great service and then take hours to respond to my requests, if you respond at all. The best companies get it, respecting their customers and their time--these are likely to be the winners in the competitive retail market."

The 2015 Eptica Retail Multichannel Customer Experience Study evaluated 500 of the biggest US retailers. It studied those companies ranked between 500-1000, according to turnover, by theTop500Guide.com. For them delivering excellent customer experience is crucial if they are to challenge larger players. The Study measured their ability to provide answers to 10 routine questions via the web, as well as their speed and accuracy when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat. Questions were deliberately similar to those that consumers ask, such as around...

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