23 percent of companies offer customer support via Facebook

Almost one-quarter of companies offer customer support via Facebook, according to a new study by MarketTools.

MarketTools, an online market research company that also provides software and services for enterprise feedback management (EFM), has released a new social media study. The biggest finding is that almost one-quarter of companies (23 percent to be exact) provide customer service and support via Facebook, and just over a tenth of firms (12 percent) provide customer service and support via Twitter.

MarketTools conducted the study in September 2011 by surveying executives at companies with annual revenue greater than $10 million. It's not clear how many companies were asked to participate, but in the end there were 331 completed surveys.

The study found 34 percent of the executives surveyed stated that they were aware of customers using social media to comment on or complain about their company and its products. Despite this, less than a quarter of these executives said that their companies "always" respond to these customers. Still, 33 percent of them said their companies have a greater focus on using social media to capture customer feedback when compared to the same time last year.

Of the 68 percent of companies that have an active presence in social media, Facebook tends to be the first choice. 48 percent have an active presence on Facebook, 24 percent have a Twitter account, and just 17 percent use their own company blog.

Interestingly, only about 22 percent of those surveyed stated that their company's CEO regularly participates in social media on behalf of the company. Facebook is again the social media channel of choice: 68 percent of CEOs use Facebook, 44 percent participate on the company blog, and 35 percent participate on Twitter.

On the one hand, 95 percent of respondents believe that satisfied customers are very important or extremely important to their company. On the other hand, only 36 percent have formal voice of the customer programs in place to collect and analyze customer feedback, and of those companies, nearly half (45 percent) solicit customer feedback on a quarterly or less frequent basis.

"Companies are increasingly embracing social media as a way to interact with their customers, though they are missing an opportunity to incorporate this feedback into a voice of the customer program," Karin Adams, Director of Enterprise Products at MarketTools, said in a statement. "Organizations that use enterprise feedback management solutions are able to analyze feedback gathered through social media channels, along with feedback gathered through more traditional channels, to uncover insights to help improve business processes that lead to higher overall customer satisfaction."

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