TELECOM & INTERNET | Staff Reporter, China

@Customerservice#productfail: 30% of Chinese turn to social media for customer service

And 60 % use web chat to talk with companies as they hang up the phone on customer service.

According to a survey by the independent telecoms analyst, Ovum, 30 per cent of Chinese consumers get in touch with customer service via social media to find an answer to their queries, up from just 17 per cent two years ago.

In addition, the number of Chinese consumers seeking advice from customer service representatives via web chat and web self-service channels has increased significantly.

Two years ago less than 20 per cent of consumers used web chat or web self-service to find information, whereas today more than 60 per cent are using these channels. In fact, web chat and web self-service are the second most widely used channels today among Chinese consumers, with the most popular option being a direct call with a customer service representative.

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Ovum analyst and author of a new report unveiling the research findings, commented: "We expect the use of social media for customer service will quickly catch up with web chat and web self-service channels. The number of Chinese consumers using social media for customer service today is significantly higher compared to the UK and US.

"In emerging contact center markets such as China, consumers are keen to experiment with new forms of media. Contact centers must evolve with their customers, providing information via the web and responding to social queries on forums to ensure that customers receive accurate product and service information."

Ovum’s survey found that the most popular uses of social media by Chinese consumers for customer service are discussion boards and forums. Out of those respondents using social media for customer service, more than 50 per cent said they had started a discussion about a company in a forum while almost 50 per cent stated they had responded to someone’s question. Meanwhile almost 50 per cent have used social media as a channel to complain about bad service or a faulty product.

However, despite the high number of Chinese consumers using social media and a rapidly evolving web culture, Ovum’s survey revealed that respondents 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.

Brinsmead concluded: "Contact centers need to improve information across social media, blogs and forums so that customers are able to find answers to questions faster and with reduced effort."

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