20% of retailers don’t respond to consumers’ concerns on Facebook, a study says.

Best Buy Co. Inc. leads other online retailers when it comes to responding to—and resolving—shoppers’ customer service issues posted on Facebook and Twitter, according to a new report from social media customer service vendor Conversocial Ltd.

The vendor scored 100 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide based on their interactions with shoppers last month in six customer service areas—resolving issues within social media (worth up to 1.5 stars); resolving issues and questions publicly when possible (1.5 stars); providing shoppers with service expectations, such as hours of operation (0.5 stars); using a social media management system that aggregates posts related to the retailer in a single dashboard, like Conversocial (0.5 stars);  average customer service response times within a 7-day period last month (1.5 stars); and responding to at least 20% of tweets that include the brand’s Twitter handle (0.5 stars).

Best Buy was the only retailer to receive 5 stars, thanks in part to  its average response time of 14 minutes and it responding to 42.1% of consumers’ inquiries on Twitter and Facebook, says the report. The multichannel retailer can credit much of its success to Twelpforce, a project it launched in 2009 to enable its employees to use Twitter to respond to consumer questions. Best Buy, No. 10 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, expanded Twelpforce  to Facebook in 2011. Those efforts help it get shoppers’ issues resolved quickly—and on the same platform that they used to post their questions or concerns, says Joshua March, Conversocial co-founder and CEO. Best Buy is not a Conversocial client.  

Following are the rest of the top five retailers, with their 2013 Top 500 ranking, average response time, the percentage of inquiries they responded to via social media and their star totals:

  • 1-800-Flowers.com Inc., No. 58, 9 minutes, 1.3%, 4 stars
  • Kohl’s Corp., No. 26, 15 minutes, 4.5%, 4 stars
  • Beachbody LLC, No. 125, 16 minutes, 1.3%, 4 stars
  • Sierra Trading Post Inc., No. 102, 40 minutes, 2.3%, 4 stars

The average response time among the top 100 retailers stood at 11 hours and 15 minutes. Merchants, on average, responded to 13.8% of shoppers’ inquiries. Those results show that many retailers have a ways to go before they meet consumers’ expectations, says March. He pointed to a recent NM Incite survey that found 60% of 18- to 24-year-olds have turned to social media to get their customer service issues addressed and that 42% of 18- to 34-year-olds expect to get a response to their complaints or comments within 12 hours.


The Conversocial report found that 20% of the retailers in the study failed to respond to shoppers on Facebook and 19% didn’t reply on Twitter.

“Many retailers are only staffing their social media teams to respond to customer service issues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but, of course, people are on social media all the time, including evenings and weekends,” he says. “While retailers see social as a marketing platform, they also have to realize that their customers are using it for customer service.”

The report also found that only 50% of the retailers fully resolved customer service issues within Facebook and Twitter instead of redirecting customers to other channels, such as e-mail or phone. That percentage should increase with time, says March. “Redirecting customers is bad for customers and bad for retailers,” he says. “It’s a terrible customer experience, particularly because many people turn to social as a last resort after already trying to get a response over e-mail or from the call center. But it’s also bad for retailers because it costs more for a retailer to handle a customer service issue over the phone than it does to handle an issue digitally.”