The Average Bus Company Response Time on Social is More than The Travel Time from New York City to Washington DC (with traffic).
Bus companies who do not offer great social customer service face the risk of a disgruntled customer negatively tweeting them all of the way from New York to Florida.
After all, customers have higher expectations for the quality and speed of the responses they receive from brands than ever before. With some form of unplanned disruptions and delays inevitable for any large travel organization, social presents an opportunity to solve customer issues, especially when the only brand employee present is the driver. And the public nature of social media means that everyonecan see the customer service your customers are--or are not--receiving, making the margin for error minimal.
"The opportunity for social is that when you're telling a customer that you fixed something, all of your customers are seeing that you've fixed something." Paul Bentley of UK rail company Greater Anglia noted it in a past Conversocial Webinar. "The positive multiplier is huge." Alternatively, those that fail to offer real-time service can face serious repercussions, alienating their original customer base and failing to attract a new, more socially savvy clientele.
Still, the true value of social customer service is far more than crisis prevention. A fully ramped-up social customer service offering can provide valuable feedback that helps drive real business change. There are a tremendous number of components that go into providing a great customer experience for travelers, ranging from the time the customer buys a ticket until the end of the journey.
Social does not only prevent large issues; often one small thing can tarnish the whole experience for the customer, ranging from a faulty air conditioning system to a request for more hooks on which to hang coats in the winter. Social customer service enables brands to gradually iron each of these issues out out one by one. As Conversocial client Jo Coverly of First Great Western says, "All of the small things make one great thing". Travel operators like First Great Western realize that they can't resolve everything, but they have the ability to provide a number of positive "mini-experiences". This feedback loop powers ROI outside of just customer service but for the brand as a whole.
With all of this in mind, we decided to objectively benchmark the Twitter customer service performance of five leading US bus companies. The observed companies all offer affordable and convenient transportation to a diverse clientele including college students, thrifty senior citizens and everyone else in between. In order to further illustrate the time sensitive nature of social customer service for these companies, we used Google maps to estimate driving directions from Conversocial's New York Headquarters for the average response time of each brand.
With an average response time of 4 hours, 55 minutes--more than the time it takes to drive from New York City to Washington DC--it is safe to say that bus companies can improve the speed at which they're delivering customer service over Twitter. Whether resolution of a small customer issue or response in the face of massive delays, every second counts. As a rule of thumb, if you would not put a customer who called your contact center on hold for 15 minutes, you should not wait that long to answer queries and complaints raised publically through social.
Failing to respond to direct @mentions (the average responsiveness of the 5 bus companies analyzed was 27.30%) is like ignoring a customer's phone call or email. Still, it's important to note that there isn't a magic number of what constitutes a good responsiveness percentage, at least not without much deeper analysis. Even if we were to measure the percentage of actionable customer service issues each brand received, this number would vary on a case by case basis. Whether the brand is using a dedicated care handle (such as @MegabusHelp and @GHoundBusHelp), or if they're using the same handle for both marketing and customer service, can also greatly impact responsiveness; after all, a dedicated care handle likely receives fewer mentions than a general handle, but most of those mentions are almost certainly customer service issues. With the right prioritization engine in place to sift out urgent customer queries and proper tagging to mark which inbound mentions are customer service related and which aren't, brands have the ability to set their own SLAs for responsiveness.
All said, a fully ramped social customer service operation stands to not just prevent potential social media crises, but also deliver positive business value. In the face of high competition and price wars, social customer service provides bus companies with the opportunity to both protect and increase customer loyalty.