Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indian consumers turn to social media for customer service

INDIA: Indian consumers are turning to social media as a viable alternative to the phone for customer service, research from Ovum has revealed.

Almost 40 percent of Indian consumers have used social media to attempt to receive customer service from a company – more than three times the number in the UK and US where just 12 percent have used the channel.

Of those Indian consumers that had used social media as a customer service channel, the majority were promoting services they have received. Meanwhile a large number (44 percent) had used it as a channel to complain about bad service or a faulty product.

However, despite the high number of Indian consumers using social media, Ovum’s survey revealed that they still view a telephone call with a customer service representative as the best method when it comes to resolving an issue on the first attempt.

Ian Jacobs, Ovum analyst and author of a new report unveiling the survey findings, commented: “In India, consumers do not have access to as many web-based alternative communication channels to the telephone as their counterparts in the West. Many web-based channels, such as email or web chat, depend on businesses providing a route to a specialist customer service organisation. Social media has no such dependencies; any consumer with an Internet connection can use it.

“In contrast, in places like the US and the UK, companies often support many web-based channels for customer service. Social media, therefore, is just one route to customer service among dozens.

“It isn’t that there is some inherent Indian characteristic that makes that population more amenable to using social media for customer service; however, our survey revealed that among the more tech-savvy sections of the population, social media is seen as a viable alternative to the phone.”

Overall, mobile phones remain the preferred means of communication for contacting customer service in India – no surprise given the proliferation of mobile devices in the country. Only 16 per cent use smartphones, reflecting the slow adoption of the devices in India.

When asked what they found the most frustrating aspect of customer service, the majority (46 percent) cited occasions when the wait time to speak to a customer service representative is too long.

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