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Customer Service News
20 Jun 2012

Customer service via Facebook is on the rise

Two out of three companies offer customer services on Facebook

However, social media channels are often not integrated

Facebook growing in importance as a service channel   
63 per cent of companies in Germany allow customers to contact them through Facebook. This means that social media networks have become similarly important to e-mail for customer contact. However, many companies still lack reliability. Only 56 per cent of them actually answer customer enquiries sent on Facebook. This was the result of a response analysis conducted by novomind and examining customer communication at some of the biggest companies across several industries.

Companies reply quickly but not consistently via Facebook   
A speedy response is one of the hallmarks of good service. As it happens, Facebook users are less patient than people who write e-mails. The majority of contact centres have recognised this; 70 per cent of all responses end up on the fan page in just a few hours. Consistency, however, is less impressive. Out of five queries sent, less than three are answered, and only 22 per cent of companies manage to answer all five questions. “This allows us to deduce that Facebook is not integrated everywhere into contact centre processes as a channel of equal status,” says Sylvia Feja, Director of eCommunication at novomind. When customers send the same enquiries by e-mail, an average of almost four out of five of the queries are answered, and 42 per cent of companies respond to all five questions.

Banks and insurers still holding off
Banks and insurance companies remain reluctant when it comes to social CRM. In the finance sector, only 40 per cent of companies can be reached through Facebook. One of the reasons for this reticence is the fact that there is no way of communicating one-to-one via Facebook. The social network may enable direct messages to be sent to corporate pages, but that can involve sensitive customer details such as invoice and account numbers automatically finding their way onto Facebook's servers in the USA.

One-to-one communication without a change of channel better than switching to e-mail and telephone   
For Facebook to keep growing as a service channel it will need a technically and legally clear-cut solution by which customers can switch directly to one-to-one communication with companies. “This could be done by opening a chat room,” explains Sylvia Feja of novomind. “That would allow customers and contact centre agents to exchange sensitive information, while the Internet community and Facebook stay outside. This is because the chat front end would be outside of Facebook’s domain, on the company’s own servers.

Background information   
For its 2012 response analysis, novomind examined customer communication among some of Germany’s biggest companies in several industries. These included banks, insurers, mail-order companies, energy suppliers, car rental companies, airlines, telecommunications companies, and Web-based operators. A total of 122 German companies were surveyed. Each of these was sent five different service enquiries in December and January, via two contact channels (e-mail/contact form and Facebook)— where available—about things like current product and price lists, and when further contact could be made via telephone. The same questions were sent once again by a different sender about a week later.

novomind AG
Since 1999, Hamburg company novomind has been developing innovative e-business solutions for the modern Internet world in four e-business disciplines: e-commerce (e-shops and zoom server), PIM (product information management), e-marketplace (marketplace integration) and e-communication (solutions for contact and service centres).

novomind is a European technology leader in every service segment and covers the whole digital value-adding chain in retail and electronic customer communication.
The Hamburg-based software house is the fastest growing company in the fields of electronic customer communication and mail management (e-communications). With the two product lines novomind iAGENT and novomind Self Service Solutions, businesses now have the opportunity to integrate all of their communication channels into one system.

novomind AG is currently assisting more than 80 companies including Targobank, Der Club Bertelsmann, Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund, Ernsting’s family, EnBW, OTTO, QVC and Sixt.