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Fifth Quadrant: Business Adoption of Social Media Outpaces Consumer Demand



70% of Australian organisations now offer social media as a customer service channel

The use of social media by business has become the norm rather than the exception, with more than two-thirds of Australian organisations using the channel to deliver customer service. Consumers however, are proving slower to adopt social media for these purposes, with just under one third (31 per cent) using the channel for a customer service interaction within the past three months.

These are among the findings of “Emerging Consumer Channels: Social Media, Web Chat and Smartphone Apps,” a new report by Fifth Quadrant, Australia's customer experience research and consultancy specialists. The report details the results of a research study among Australian consumers and organisations, and explores the evolution of social media, web chat and smartphone apps as customer service channels.

The disconnect between consumer use and business expectations may in part be occurring because the two groups are looking for each other in all the wrong places.  The world's leading social network, Facebook, is the Australian consumers' number one choice for customer service engagement, followed by online forums and communities, and YouTube.  Popular networks including Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs were the least popular options, with more than seven in ten consumers stating they “rarely” or “never” turn to them for customer service purposes.
 
Conversely, the leading network among businesses, is Twitter, used by more than three-quarters of organisations.  Company blogs, websites and online communities tie in second place followed by Facebook. YouTube and LinkedIn sites are also prevalent contact channel offerings.

The highest user of social media for customer service is Generation Y, which accounted for just under half (46 per cent) of all social media customer service queries within the last three months.  Second is Generation X (39 per cent), followed by Baby Boomers (24 per cent) and the Silent Generation, otherwise known as those born between 1925 and 1942 (16 per cent).

Overall, almost one in three consumers say they use social media “often” when seeking customer service, and one-third (33 per cent) plan to increase their use of social media for customer service within the next 12 months.

The main factors holding consumers back from using social media for customer service include the perception that the channel lacks personal interaction and concerns over security.
 
The adoption of social media by Australian organisations is not new. Among businesses that currently offer it as a service channel, almost two thirds have been using social media for the past two years.  Only one in seven adopted the channel within the last 12 months. In more than half of all organisations, responsibility for managing the network sits with the Marketing and Insights team.

The report notes that long term, resourcing is likely to become a challenge for many organisations.  While social media is currently offered by seven in ten Australian organisations, just over half indicate a low level of preparedness in being able to effectively support the channel given future demand.

Chris Kirby, Head of Research, Fifth Quadrant said, “Simply creating a new service channel then standing back and waiting for the customers to come won't work. If organisations want to offer customer service through social media, they need to go to the networks that their customers use. They also need to treat social networks as they would any other communications channel.  This means developing realistic long term resourcing plans.”

About Fifth Quadrant
Established in 1998, Fifth Quadrant Pty Ltd is a Customer Experience Management Consultancy and Research organisation. We provide management consulting, customer experience research; customer experience co-creation and design; multi-country market analysis; advanced data analytics including Big Data consulting; diagnostic assessment of operations and technology; customer experience strategy development and execution and improvement of operations.