Customer service goes social in India

01 June 2011

NEW DELHI: Increasing numbers of Indian shoppers are using social media as a customer service tool, according to new figures.

Research firm Ovum surveyed members of the country's burgeoning online population, and reported 40% had exploited platforms like Facebook and Twitter to interact with a company.

This total can be measured against comparative scores of 12% registered by netizens from the UK and US, Ovum added.

While a majority of internet users had pursued such an activity for largely positive reasons, 44% did so to complain about a bad experience or faulty product.

"In India, consumers do not have access to as many web-based alternative communication channels to the telephone as their counterparts in the West," Ian Jacobs, an Ovum analyst, said.

"Many web-based channels, such as e-mail or web chat, depend on businesses providing a route to a specialist customer service organisation.

"Social media has no such dependencies; any consumer with an internet connection can use it."

Overall, mobile phones remain the dominant means of contacting brand owners for Indian adults, only 16% of which were found to own a smartphone.

The main difficulty individuals calling companies faced was the waiting time endured before speaking to a staff member, mentioned by 46%.

"It isn't that there is some inherent Indian characteristic that makes that population more amenable to using social media for customer service," the report added.

"However ... among the more tech-savvy sections of the population, social media is seen as a viable alternative to the phone."

Data sourced from iGovernment; additional content by Warc staff