In our recently released Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail study, we partnered with STELLAService, a company whose mission is to evaluate online businesses’ customer service performance. As part of the section on brand responsiveness, STELLA created faux user accounts and Tweeted at each of the 75 retailers assessed in our study every day during the month of July — a total of 2,294 Tweets — with a simple, answerable customer service question. The goal of this exercise was to not only test the quickness with which brands would respond over the social platform but whether they would respond at all.


As you can see from the chart above,  of those brands that did respond, just three percent did so in “real-time” (three hours or fewer) and less than one-third replied within 24 hours. With Twitter as public a platform as it is, and customers able to see exactly when an administrator is active on the account, responding promptly and helpfully is critical. Especially if the person asking the question is a first-time customer. Nobody likes their question to be ignored, not when money and frustration are involved; brands can really make or break a first impression with how they handle these situations.



This second chart shows a breakdown of STELLA’s nearly 2,300 Tweets and how many were replied to within a 24-hour period. Of those Tweets that did garner a response, a staggering 77.5 percent took more than a full day. For brands whose Twitter accounts are updated multiple times per day (i.e., the vast majority of the 75 included in this study), this is unacceptable. Anybody with a Twitter account can perform an “@VictoriasSecret” search and see all incoming Tweets users have sent to the retailer. The good, the bad, the pissed off — they’re all there in plain view. What’s also in plain view is whether or not the brand took the time to address a pressing customer service question. Some brands choose to focus only on those replies praising their products, but this is no way to run the social media side of a business. Not when some brands, from niche lines like Warby Parker to big box retailers like Macy’s find a way to do such an excellent job.


It should be pointed out that the country’s largest 25 retailers did respond comparatively faster than their smaller, boutique counterparts–a function, most likely, of better resources (i.e., a dedicated Twitter administrator). Collectively, the largest 25 replied to 28.1 percent and 47.3 percent of STELLA’s Tweets within one hour and 24 hours, respectively.


Per STELLAService, Twitter best practices:


Respond Quickly.

Shoppers who ask a question over Twitter expect a response 100 percent of the time. Prioritize the response to these shoppers over others who may be making a statement about your brand.


Provide Recommendations.

Go the extra mile by recommending items to your shoppers and provide relevant links.


Recommend Connecting Over the Phone.

Shoppers like when their issues are elevated. Suggesting a phone conversation makes a customer feel more important.


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