Social media has forced brands to get more personal and develop stronger relationships with customers online. But just as with any relationship, failure to communicate can make it feel one-sided. Listening is only one half of the equation; responding quickly and specifically to your audience is just as important.

The reality is that it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, and platforms like Twitter are a first point of complaint for many disgruntled customers. Social media’s real-time attributes have resulted in demanding response time expectations — a 2012 study found that 32 percent of customers expect a response within 30 minutes.

In fact, it’s not just response time that brands have to worry about. Poor customer service can lead to negative feedback in public forums like Facebook and Twitter. Twenty-six percent of consumers post a negative comment on social networking sites after sub par customer service. Seventy-nine percent of those that complained about poor customer service had their complaints ignored.

Although 30-minute response time is somewhat unrealistic, the fact of the matter is that this is what your customers are looking for. If ignored entirely, they might turn elsewhere for support. Not only could this result in incorrect information, but it could also give your competitors an opportunity to swoop in and steal your customers.

This doesn’t mean that if you don’t respond within 30 minutes that all hope is lost — it’s not — but it’s a good reminder to manage customer support expectations, both for your team as well as your customers. Of the customers who did get a response, 51 percent of them had positive reactions to the brand that they were complaining about, and 22 percent posted a positive comment about the organization.

The infographic below, created by KISSMetrics, looks at the impact customer support has on businesses. It also examines consumers’ differing expectations on social media platforms, online forums, and email. Your team doesn’t have to be prepared for around-the-clock monitoring, but there are tools that can make the process more manageable, and Sprout Social’s #BePresent report can help you get started.

Why do Companies with Great Customer Service Succeed?

customer service infographic

[Via: AllTwitter, Image credit: TheeErin]