Retailers don't answer, delete Facebook customer questions

Consumers expect to get answers to customer service questions on Facebook, but retailers aren't very good at offering them. Some simply don't answer while others outright delete the questions.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Retailers have rushed to establish a presence on Facebook with their own Page, in the hopes of building a larger social following. When it comes to customer service, however, it turns out retailers aren't treating Facebook users so well. In fact, some retailers are going so far as to regularly deleting questions posted on their Facebook Pages.

The findings come from customer service rating firm STELLAService, which recently tested to see how the 20 top retailers conduct customer service on Facebook by posting general service questions to each retailer's Facebook Page. Of the 20 retailers measured, five failed to respond to a question posted on their Wall within two days and seven simply deleted the question from their Wall. The companies tested were a mix of brand manufacturers and multi-brand retailers – both traditional and flash sale sites – across various product categories.

The test found that the location of a customer's inquiry on a retailer's Facebook Page is important: questions are more likely to be answered when they were posted directly on the Wall, rather than within the comments section of a retailer's post. Seven retailers responded to questions posted in the comments section of a post within two days, while five retailers deleted the question from the comments section.

Companies that failed to reply to a wall post within 48 hours included J. Crew, One Kings Lane, Radio Shack, Rue La La, and Victoria's Secret. Companies that deleted a wall post, regardless of whether they answered the question, included Best Buy, Crate and Barrel, Gilt.com, J. Crew, Radio Shack, Rue La La, and Victoria's Secret.

Companies that failed to answer questions posted in the comments section of their own post included Best Buy, Bose, Brooks Brothers, Cooking.com, Fab.com, Foot Locker, Gap, Gilt.com, J. Crew, One Kings Lane, Radio Shack, Sur La Table, and Victoria's Secret. On the flip side, B&H Photo was the top performer in terms of speed, answering a question on their wall within two minutes.

"There's no doubt that retailers are receiving questions from customers on Facebook," STELLAService Chief Executive Jordy Leiser said in a statement. "The questions we asked as part of this test were often stacked on top of other questions from customers. Someone is going to differentiate by going above and beyond with customer service on Facebook, and they will win sales and loyalty as a result."

The problem here is that most companies view their Facebook presence as a means for marketing. Facebook users, however, sometimes want to use the social network as an open dialogue between companies and consumers. Companies need to figure out how to do both.

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