Brands have been flocking to social media over the past few years, as platforms like Twitter and Facebook grow in popularity as spaces for customer interaction.

Consequently, the common perception is that social media is where all the important customer action happens.

Which would be wrong…

Email is still the preferred medium prospects and customers use to communicate with brands when considering buying products and services.

Moreover, with global email accounts set to top the 5 billion mark in 2015, email is set to continue to be the favourite channel for dealing with just about every online demographic.

Business Still Don’t Take Email Seriously Enough

Social media channels are more exposed spaces than email, making brands seem more accountable to their audiences. This especially when critics and complainers threaten to erode brand perceptions publicly. It’s a modern dynamic that has translated into email communication being treated as a poor cousin to social media, with replies to even the hottest email leads being delayed for unacceptably long periods or even ignored completely.

This tragedy of customer service is made stark by a 2011 study of Call Centre Association members in the UK by customer service specialist KANA Software.

Results of the study revealed how 59 per cent of businesses took over eight hours to reply on average to email inquiries, while over a quarter of the same group took more than 24 hours to reply to emails. This falls a long way out of the magic 5-minute zone proven to maximise sales from website inquiries.

A separate study showed how email was still the preferred channel for customer complaints, supporting the assumption that many customers only turn their indignation towards social media after they have been ignored in less public spaces like email – typically making their complaints louder after feeling ignored as well as disappointed after a product or service failing.

There’s Hidden Gold in Email

While social customer service may seem to be grabbing all the headlines, businesses are well advised not to overlook email as a fertile channel for customer interaction.

Doing this properly means making sure effective measurement and response tools are implemented for email communication… and used to ensure prompt replies are made before customers go elsewhere or turn to social media to vent their frustration.

That way, social media feeds will be less full of irate customers, while sales figures improve as a result of faster responses to all those promising inquiries.

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