IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 19 May 2014

Is round the clock retailing backed up by 24 x 7 customer service and social media interaction?

April 2014: Multichannel retailing means consumers can shop round the clock, but are customer expectations being met in regard to customer service and social capability?

We conducted some research to find out how the top 50 UK retailers use social media to aid customer service. We saw that only 10% of retailers provide around the clock support for consumers, however Amazon, Coast, Karen Millen, Next, Oasis and Paperchase came out on top providing 24×7 customer service.

Our research found that every retailer has tapped into social media as an important consumer engagement platform, with 100% presence on Facebook and 95% coverage on twitter.  However, whilst 25% of retailers have recognised that twitter can act as a fast route to respond to customer queries by establishing a dedicated twitter customer service @handle, the research found that  the majority of retailers are still only offering limited customer service availability.  On average retailers are providing customer service availability for 62 of the 168 possible hours each week, which essentially means that retailers can only respond to consumer enquires for 36% of the time that customers could be shopping.

As part of the research we submitted an easy to answer question to every retailers Facebook page.  Aldi, Boots and Waterstones all responded to the enquiry within 5 minutes.  On average retailers took around four hours to respond to a customer service post and 10% of retailers never responded to the consumer question posed at all.

Alan Morris, Executive Chairman of Retail Assist comments: “This research shows that retailers could be under utilising the technology that is out there to help them engage with customers and deliver great customer service.  Social media is making retailers more accessible than ever and consumers expect to be able to engage with retailers whenever and wherever they want. Retailers have the responsibility of providing quality and timely customer service – consumers can shop 24×7, therefore they expect retailers to be available 24×7 too.”

When consumer’s use social media to flag up customer service problems they are broadcasting problems to their own peers, which can damage retailer’s reputations. Our research found that Amazon, Argos, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Homebase, John Lewis, Next, New Look, Oasis, River Island and Sports Direct have all established a separate twitter customer service channel which helps point customer problems away from the brand’s main social media channel.  However, in general it seems that many retailers could be using technology more effectively to ensure that their 24×7 omnichannel retail operations are reflected in their social media and customer services outlets.

For more information on our services you can visit our website: or call us on: +44 (0) 115 853 3910. We are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram just search ‘RetailAssist’.

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