Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

Are Consumer Expectations for Social Customer Service Realistic?

The provision of customer service via social media channels has become nearly axiomatic, especially in B2C industries with high volumes of contact. It’s become one of the Big Three customer service channels, joining phone and email to form the triad of support modalities. Certainly, you could use postal mail, fax, or live chat for customer service, but those are just drops in the bucket compared to the Big Three.

Historically, customer expectations for phone support are far different than those for email support. We don’t have data on phone support in this version of The Social Habit, but I think we can stipulate that when you use the phone, you expect a synchronous response – even if hold times can become excruciatingly long when “call volumes are abnormally heavy”. Email is different. You send a support email (or fill out a contact form, which is the same mechanism), you expect a response in a few hours, or a day or so.

But what about social media? Are our expectations for response more urgent and similar to phone, or less urgent and similar to email? In this edition of The Social Habit, we asked a sample of American social media users 12+, and our findings paint a difficult and resource-intensive picture for businesses.


Among respondents to The Social Habit who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes.

Also, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. Is your company prepared to handle social media inquiries within the hour? A few are. Most are not, in my experience, which potentially creates a disillusionment gap between customers’ anticipated response time, and your actual ability to provide a response.

Certainly, consumers understand that social media staffing patterns change at night, and on weekends, right? They don’t expect round-the-clock support, do they?

Actually, they do in many cases.

Our research found that among those respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.


When you hear talk about the need to “scale social media” this is one of the reasons why it’s an important conversation. Are customer expectations realistic? And can you possibly meet those expectations with a centralized approach to social customer service?

Note that this isn’t some “we asked 42 people” survey. The respondent base – just the people who HAVE reached out to a company for support via social – is 690 persons from a representative sample of over 3,000 American social media users. Real data = real answers for your business.

We have many more eye-popping findings in The Social Habit research. I’ve seen the raw data, and it’s a mind-blower. There’s still time to subscribe to this edition (which also gets you exclusive access to our grand unveiling Webinar on October 11), so if you haven’t parted with your dollars yet, please do so. It’ll be worth every penny, and then some.


About the Author

Jay Baer is a social and content strategist, keynote speaker, and author. He's consulted with more than 700 companies since 1994, including 29 of the FORTUNE 500. He's the co-author of the social business book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social


  1. [...] Research has been drip-feeding some of its more revealing insights to the industry, and in a recent blog post, asks if consumer expectations for social customer service are [...]

  2. [...] de expectativas y respuestas, entre quienes se conectan y esperan respuestas rápidas (según el post de The Social Habit, el 42% espera una respuesta en el plazo de una hora y un 32% espera una respuesta dentro de 30 [...]

  3. [...] sondaggio effettuato da Social Habit dimostra che il 32% dei consumatori che utilizza i social media per il customer service, vorrebbe [...]

  4. [...] Top Brands Using Twitter for Customer Support @ Simply Measured cites a separate study conducted by The Social Habit that found two-thirds (67%) of surveyed Twiter users expect a [...]

  5. [...] recent survey done by Social Habit found that 32% expect a response in less than 30 minutes, and a total of 42% expect a response [...]

Speak Your Mind