The customer is always right. The customer is king. On thing you should never do is commit a cardinal sin of business, ignore your customer. However it appears a large majority of retailers are doing this on social media according to a new Sprout Social study. 

According to the data from the study, retailers failed to respond to more than 80% of consumer questions and requests on social media last year. During the christmas season only 16.35% of customer queries were dealt with by retailers.

We are now entering the holiday season and christmas shopping is either starting or has already started. Like it or not, most of us as shoppers become a lot more demanding during the holiday season and last year there was a 21% increase in the number of inbound social media messages to retailers during the third and fourth quarter.

A similar trend is expected to follow this year, people expect quick answers – that is why we turn to social media. According to Sprout Social, the average response time for retailers is 12 hours after reaching out to them. If the response trend stays the same this year as it did last year it means that five of every six messages will be ignored.

These companies are not inactive on social media, they just use social media as a megaphone to shout about their brand. They don’t interact, they don’t engage and they don’t address customer concerns and questions. During the third quarter of last year in the run up to christmas retailers sent three times more promotional messages than replies.

Sprout Social also studied the comparison between Twitter and Facebook, they found that 7% more requests were received on Facebook in comparison to Twitter in the third quarter of last year.

However retailers did not seem to react to that shift and they sent out more messages and promotional information on Twitter in comparison to Facebook in the same quarter of last year.

There was a positive point for the retail sector in the study. Their response rates were only beaten by one other sector, utility companies. The overall rate of response from businesses in the Sprout Social tracking metrics was a measly 11% with media/entertainment coming in at the bottom.

Promoting and engagement come hand in hand on social media. It is not always easy but each business has to find the balance that is right for them. You wouldn’t ignore a customer if they were talking to you face to face so why would you ignore them on social media? It is hard to reach out and interact with everyone however the bottom line is that the entire industry as a whole can do better to change those statistics around.

You can download the full Sprout Social Index here.

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