Customers Expect Tweets to be Responded to within an Hour
Over 70 percent of Twitter users expect to see businesses respond to their tweets, a social media report has found, and 54 percent expect to hear back within the hour.

That such a high percentage of people expect responses from companies on social media shows how far expectations have risen, the Lithium Social Response Study found.

"Any company serious about customer service simply cannot let customers wait around for a reply," Katy Keim, Lithium CMO, said in an interview. "Businesses wouldn't sit back and let the phone ring off the hook, and they wouldn't ignore customers who came into their stores, and this is no different."

Lithium hired MillWard Brown to conduct a survey of 501 respondents who said they actively engaged with a company on Twitter, and the report shows the trend of people using Twitter for customer support purposes is not going away, Keim said.

"That means companies that think they are going to simply tread water to get through this trend are wrong," she said.

However, for companies that are the most engaged with customers via social media and who do a good job of responding quickly are now attempting to scale those efforts, Keim added. Even when companies start off by doing well in this area, it becomes harder and harder as the number of followers grows, and the network effect takes over.

These exchanges are often public, so it's not just the customer with which a company is communicating. It's the customer's their friends and followers, too. That's one of the reasons social media is simply transforming how many companies do business.

Customers Expect Tweets to be Responded to within an Hour
Respondents were asked to think about the last time they tweeted a company directly, and then how much they agreed with the above question.

Customers Give, Take Away

As the above image shows, 47 percent of respondents said they preferred to use Twitter over other sources for product and service related questions. Furthermore, depending on how companies respond to customers' tweets can color just how those customers perceive them. Even if a customer has a positive engagement with a company, it can turn negative if they aren't responded to quickly, the survey found.

A total of 38 percent of respondents said they felt more negative about a company if they were not responded to in a timely manner. Conversely, for those who do see a quick response, 43 percent said they would encourage friends and family to buy something from that company. That's a real potential benefit for companies that respond in a timely manner to a tweet.

Additionally, 65 percent of respondents said they plan to increase their usage on Twitter in the next year, and 77 percent of active users said they would use it more if companies were more responsive. As Keim pointed out, this trend looks to be moving toward a groundswell, one that companies will have to address in order to craft great customer experiences.

Lithium, of course, thinks it has the tools to help customers do just that, and its Social Web product has now garnered official Twitter approval via the Twitter Certified Products Program. This allows Lithium to have quick access to Twitter releases, but also allows the company to meet directly with Twitter's technology team, Keim said.

Twitter certification helps Lithium's business, Keim said, and the data from the study helps show customers just how responsive they are, a good way to start conversations with them.

Image Credit: sommthink / Shutterstock