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Twitter Complaints about Retailers Expected to Surge After Thanksgiving

Our latest research found that the volume of tweets to top US retailers was five times higher than normal in the week following Thanksgiving in 2012.

The holiday season is the most important time of the year for most retailers, and when the most strain is put on customer service. With service issues now spreading on to public social media sites, the results can be disastrous - if they’re not managed properly. To help retailers understand how best to prepare for this year, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the volume and types of tweets that ten major retailers received over the holiday period last year.  

We released the report, “Preparing Social Customer Service for the Holiday Surge”, at a joint event with WGSN last month at the W Union Square in New York. You can download the full report here.

The retailers analyzed were Barney’s, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Target, Urban Outfitters, and Walmart.

Key Findings:

  • The retailers received twice the average daily volume of Tweets over the holiday period compared to October

  • The biggest surge in volume of Tweets was for the 7 days following Cyber Monday, with five times more than the average daily volume of October

  • The volume of customer service tweets correlated with Tweets about the retailer’s sales, events & promotions

  • Product availability issues caused the biggest negative spikes in activity

  • After negative customer service issues and general mentions, people Tweeted more about positive customer experiences than anything else - showing that if social customer service is done right, it can be a powerful tool for generating brand advocacy.

Rachel Arthur, Senior Editor for Digital Media & Marketing from WGSN opened the event, sharing key stats and forecasts for retail this holiday season–including the continuing large growth in m-commerce, and the importance of social media in shopping for gifts (she reported that in 2012, 65% of consumers reported using social media to help them find the perfect gift).

“We've been tracking the focus on customer service through social as a key trend for retail strategy over the past couple of years on WGSN. The ability for consumers to be more vocal with their networks whether in-store or online has made offering a seamless service experience fundamental to business success, and no time is this greater than during the holiday season. We’re expecting this to significantly upscale once again this year. Those retailers who can surprise and delight their shoppers will be the ones who win.”

–Rachel Arthur, Senior Editor, Digital Media & Marketing, WGSN

We were then joined for a panel discussion by Bergdorf Goodman's Cannon Tekstar Hodge, JackThreads' David Tull, and Jordy Leiser from STELLAService (chaired by Rachel Arthur) to discuss the findings and what retailers need to be thinking about when it comes to social, and social customer service, this holiday season.

According to NM Incite’s State of Social Customer Service 2012, 71% of those who experience positive social care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that do not receive any response. Similarly, Our own research has shown that 88% of customers who see unanswered posts on a brand’s Facebook wall are less likely to buy from that brand.

With the huge surge in social media complaints that is coming in just a few weeks, it’s essential that retailers ramp up  their social customer service teams properly in advance. And as the volumes rise and fall with off-line sales and promotion events, it’s essential for customer service to align its resourcing with holiday marketing campaigns. With the possibility for complaints and issues to spiral out of control, social media could ruin the holidays for you. But you if you get social customer service right, it’s a huge chance to drive brand advocacy as people share positive customer experiences.

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