How CPG Companies Handle Social Customer Care

Though I don’t have the data to back it up, I would bet that almost every American has, at some point in their lives, dealt with a bad customer service experience. Maybe you spent an hour on hold, pacing around your house, listening to elevator hold music blare through the speakerphone. Maybe you tweeted at an airline a day before your flight and received an unhelpful response a month later. Whatever your negative experience was, you probably felt like a nuisance to the brand, rather than a valued customer.

Well, you’re not alone—and I do have data to back that up. As we discovered in our latest Smart Social Report The State of Social Media Customer Care, 89% of tweets at brands go unanswered. This means that thousands of people are left out to dry every day—even by leading brands.

89% of tweets at brands go unanswered.

 

Editor's note: Want the TL;DR picture of the full report? The video below summarizes it:

 
The social iceberg in social customer care explained.

 

Airlines lead in social care, while tech companies fall behind

There is some variation from industry to industry, though. For instance, airlines responded to 85% of brand tweets, while tech companies replied to just 5%. In our Smart Social Report, we covered the performance of five industries over the course of 2016—airlines, grocers, retail, electronics, and tech—and found drastically different social care performance between these industries. This left us curious about the performance of other industries.

How does CPG stack up?

Five months into 2017, we decided to delve into another noteworthy industry: CPG. Industry reports predict a steady recovery for CPG brands this year, after a rough patch in 2016 caused by a pullback in large purchases. Despite the predicted recovery, we found that CPG brands are lagging behind in social care responses.

89% of all tweets from the five industries covered in our newest Smart Social Report went unanswered, but CPG brands alone left 91% of tweets unanswered. We initially guessed this may be because CPG brands receive a high volume of tweets, making the task of responding to all of them more challenging. Wrong.

CPG brands received an average of 122 tweets per day, which was lower than the average for any of the other industries analyzed, other than electronics companies (average = 75 tweets/day). In general, brands that received fewer questions to answer did respond to a larger portion of those tweets, though there were a few exceptions. For example, Coca Cola received the most brand mentions per day (avg = 388 tweets/day), yet managed to respond to a higher percentage of tweets than @Lays or @Pepsi.

Non-English speaking customers are left behind

Digging a bit deeper, we found inconsistencies in response rates depending on the language used by the customer. People who tweet at CPG brands in English are five times more likely to receive a reply than those tweeting at brands in Spanish or Portuguese and more than 10 times more likely to receive a response than those tweeting in French or Tagalog. About 9% of people who tweeted at @CocaCola tweeted in Spanish, but less than 2% of @CocaCola’s replies were in Spanish. All brands received tweets in German, but no German tweets received a response.

People who tweet at CPG brands in English are 5 times more likely to receive a reply than those tweeting at brands in Spanish or Portuguese.

 

Some brands are improving, while others are falling further behind

After discovering that CPG was lagging behind other industries in social customer care, we wondered whether this has long been a trend in the industry, or whether the industry has improved over time. We found that in aggregate, CPG companies have improved the percentage of tweets that receive a response compared to percentage answered in Q4 of last year by 2%. However, this is largely thanks to Dove for increasing its percentage of tweets answered from 7% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

Editor's note: Download the full report for tons more detail on the state of social media customer care across industries.

More replies = happier customers

As it turns out, responding to customers on Twitter may be worth more than one might think. After Dove began responding to more tweets in 2017, the brand saw an increase in positive sentiment from customers. In the last three months of 2016, Dove’s net positive sentiment was 41%; three months later, that sentiment score rose to 43%. Nescafé, the brand that responded to the most tweets (49%), received more positive sentiment in tweets than every brand except Dove.

Prioritize, analyze, & strategize

So what can CPG do to take social care to the next level? Set small goals, measure the impact of your efforts, and respond strategically.

  • Prioritize: Rather than trying to immediately attack all 91% of incoming tweets that are going unanswered, set a goal that is manageable and attainable. Maybe your goal is to reduce the percentage of unanswered tweets by 5% each quarter, or respond to at least 500 tweets per month.

  • Analyze: In order to track your success, first measure both the volume of tweets you are answering and the volume of incoming tweets to assess whether your brand is currently above or below the industry average. Is your brand responding to more or less than 9% of tweets received?

  • Strategize: Responding to more tweets isn’t the only important goal to track—quality of responses is as important as quantity. Spredfast’s Conversations allows brands to query their incoming messages for words that signal need for a quick response (e.g. “today” or “soon”). Brands can also filter to respond to highly followed customers or tweets that received above average engagement first.

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Justine Braun is a Senior Analyst in Research & Insights at Spredfast. Her career began in Chicago studying social data from a psychological perspective. When she’s not buried in spreadsheets, you can find her climbing rock walls, making ice cream, or rambling about female-fronted punk bands.