Picking up the phone to seek help regarding a product or a service is no longer the norm amongst Chinese consumers. In fact the use of social media for customer service by Chinese consumers has almost doubled in the last two years, reveals a research on the consumer behaviour in China by research firm Ovum.
More and more consumers find it easier to login to social media to seek customer support and help. According to the survey by the independent telecoms analyst, 30 per cent of Chinese consumers get in touch with customer service via social media to find an answer to their queries, up from just 17 per cent two years ago. Aphrodite Brinsmead, Ovum analyst and author of the report said, “We expect the use of social media for customer service will quickly catch up with web chat and web self-service channels. The number of Chinese consumers using social media for customer service today is already significantly higher than in the UK and US.
In addition, the number of Chinese consumers seeking advice from customer service representatives via web chat and web self-service channels has increased significantly. The study shows that two years ago less than 20 per cent of consumers used web chat or web self-service to find information, whereas today more than 60 per cent are using these channels. “In fact, web chat and web self-service are the second most widely used channels today among Chinese consumers, with the most popular option being a direct call with a customer service representative,” informed Brinsmead.
The survey was conducted between 2010 and 2011. It also showed that more and more consumers are getting frustrated by contact centre responses. She further emphasised, “In emerging contact centre markets such as China, consumers are keen to experiment with new forms of media. Contact centres must evolve with their customers, providing information via the web and responding to social queries on forums to ensure that customers receive accurate product and service information.”
Ovum’s survey also found that the most popular uses of social media by Chinese consumers for customer service are discussion boards and forums. “Out of those respondents using social media for customer service, more than 50 per cent said they had started a discussion about a company in a forum while almost 50 per cent said they had responded to someone’s question. Meanwhile almost 50 per cent have used social media as a channel to complain about bad service or a faulty product,” the survey statement said.
However, despite the high number of Chinese consumers using social media and a rapidly evolving web culture, Ovum’s survey revealed that respondents still view a telephone call with a customer service representative as the best method when it comes to resolving an issue on the first attempt. Brinsmead concluded, “Contact centres need to improve information across social media, blogs and forums so that customers are able to find answers to questions faster and with reduced effort.”