Top retailers take up to 17 hours to respond to customer service enquiries over Twitter, Brandwatch reveals

According to Harvard Business Review the volume of tweets targeted at brands and their Twitter service handles grew 2.5 times from 2013-215. Similarly, the percentage of people who have used Twitter for customer service leapt nearly 70%, from 22% to 37% from 2013-14. Research from McKinsey’s shows that 30% of social media users prefer to contact via social media than by phone and (17% of those over 55).

Brandwatch analysed tweets and responses for the UK’s top online retailers’ nominated customer service Twitter channels to assess the response rates and speeds for each. Data for all brands was collected over the week of 12-19 September 2016. Retailers were ranked by revenue.


Retailers with dedicated customer service channels e.g @amazonhelpers are likely to do better in this analysis than those who field all queries, competition entries, comments, through one Twitter handle.

Arthur Wade, insights analyst at Brandwatch, said: “It’s quite shocking really to see some of the average response times for these well-known retailers. Brands like Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World are well known tech brands and, let’s be honest it is likely, their customers will be conversing with them over social media. For any brand to take on average 17 hours to respond to only half of all incoming customer enquiries on Twitter, defeats the purpose of making that channel available to customers. Because of the immediacy of social media, there is an expectation of a quick response. Even if a brand isn’t able to directly resolve a query, they should respond to acknowledge the customer to prevent things escalating. A quick response can also turn an easy to solve complaint into a positive very quickly and ultimately you may create a brand ambassador from a complainer.”


Social listening during the Christmas period, a Q&A:

Should you have people ‘always on’ even if they are working from home?

Yes, the key is to respond quickly, particularly during office hours or your specified customer service hours. 8am – 8pm is standard for most online shopping.

What if someone complains over social on Christmas Eve?

You should respond, particularly because it could escalate over the next few days while you may not be watching. The majority of people will be working on Christmas Eve, so they would expect any brand to be too. If you’re closing early, publish your Christmas customer service hours but if someone can keep half an eye on social media, once a day over Christmas it’s always a good idea.

If you have a skeleton staff on, how do you cope with an influx of complaints?

Keep calm, respond politely to complaints as they come in and solve one problem at a time. As soon as you respond to acknowledge a customer, it disarms them and you can solve their problem once you’ve taken a breath.

Have you noticed any trends of more complaints over the Christmas period?

There are more complaints, yes, but due to the fact that Christmas can account for 30% of a retailer’s annual sales. The figures aren’t disproportionately high, except where there is a particular issue – e.g. weather stopping deliveries before Christmas.