While there’s something undeniably visceral about owning and driving a car – the warm leather, the sharp smell of gasoline and the heady purr of the engine – this obsession has ceased to be a solely physical affair. The archetypal love affair between man and his steel steed – like so many consumer relationships – has exploded into the social media sphere with car connoisseurs and newbies alike clamoring to ask questions, get advice, and help.
We decided to round-up some car companies for a side-by-side comparison of their social media customer service efforts to see what exactly is going on under their hoods in terms of volume, engagement levels and response time.
Let’s first take a gander at the numbers below.
As you can see, FordService is far and away the most responsive of the five brands, sending out about 180 reply tweets a day and being mentioned about 62 times daily. But this “average daily mentions” figure solely represents those consumers who specifically tweet @FordService as opposed to just @Ford. Until you properly “train” your customers to seek you out on your dedicated customer service channel, you need to be monitoring mentions of just your brand too.
People shouldn’t be punished – or ignored – for not tweeting where you want them to; you have to give them the support they need and want without waiting for them to put in the effort to find your rather hard-to-find or perhaps-not-intuitive CS handle.
Proactivity is the name of the game. Better yet? Every time Ford responds to a question from their @FordService handle, they let their customers know that this the right channel to pursue help in the future.
As you can see above, Viany simply tweeted about Ford, not even to them…and she still received a response. She was simply musing to the Internet Powers that Be and there was Ford to answer her.
Also worth noting is the fact that Ford signs their tweets so their customers know there’s a human clicking away on the keys as opposed to an automaton.
Below here you’ll see that @FordService spotted a question directed at their marketing handle, @Ford, but responded anyway…not too swiftly – 17 hours later – but they did circle back, which is stellar.
TeslaMotors on the other hand – despite having the highest number of daily mentions – has the lowest engagement levels, barely sending out one tweet per day. They also have more than double the followers of BMW, (which we know is a vanity metric), but it’s still an indication of how many people want to hear what you have to say.
It’s too bad Tesla isn’t leveraging that obvious interest into daily engagement.
When Kevin Rose – founder of Digg (among other start-ups) as well as an acting venture partner at Google Ventures – tweets to more than a million followers how excited he is to snatch up his new Tesla ride…it seems like a squandered opportunity to not give a shout-out back. (Or at least a retweet.)
Ironically Tesla was also one of the first adopters of Twitter for their brand among these brands – more than 5 years ago – but clearly would rather use it for outbound marketing fodder instead of fostering customer interactions.
VOLUMES BY DAY
Here you’ll notice that @FordService is sending out sometimes hundreds of reply tweets per day – often more than five times that of their competitors – but still experiences a serious response lag of around 12 hours. Interesting to note is that while Ford is only being mentioned around 60 times a day, they’re typically tweeting replies twice that amount, implying they must be actively seeking out customers that haven’t directly tweeted at them, as discussed above.
The other four companies – Teslamotors, BMWUSA, HondaCustSVC and NissanSupport – are basically equal in the volumes of reply tweets they’re sending…and it’s none too pretty. BMWUSA for example is mentioned more than 90 times per day, but only sends about 9 reply tweets per day. Even NissanSupport – which is mentioned around 26 times a day – only responds to about a third of those tweets. On the upside however, NissanSupport is some of the fastest to respond at an average rate of 9 hours.
A Closer Look at a (Potential) New Standard
GM recently overhauled their social customer service operations — adding 15 new hires — so we decided to do a quick and dirty case study to see how their new efforts are stacking up.
“We hired these 15 new social media agents who are out there building relationships with our customers so that from a pre-sale and post-sale perspective, our customers know that they can go to them,” said Michael Savoni, who heads up GM’s social media efforts.
According to Savoni, GM is a definite supporter of the “divide and conquer” model, assigning agents different areas of their social presence to manage including PR, marketing and customer care. GM’s three teams encounter more than 70,000 conversations on average every month via Twitter, Facebook and other online forums.
The following data gives us a two-week snapshot from each of GM’s dedicated Twitter handles: Hours of operations are admirable…but certainly not 24/7: Mon-Sat 8 am -12 am, Sunday 12 pm – 9 pm.
Chevy definitely takes the proverbial cake when compared against the other GM handles, sending 40 more reply tweets than were even mentioned and responding the most swiftly, averaging about a 5-hour delay.
Like @FordService, @GMCustomerCare is actively seeking out those customers who have a problem, regardless of the fact they didn’t directly seek out their customer service handle.
Below you’ll see that ChevyCustomerCare is even monitoring their company’s different car models – like the Camaro – to capitalize on any and all mentions and leverage that into customer engagement. Sadly their response was three days later…
While these proactive customer service efforts are, well, great efforts, the bottom line is that their response times are still painfully slow, especially in comparison to leaders in other verticals like fast food – @TacoBell for example – who averages a reply time of under 30 minutes – or @DeltaAssist who answers most tweets under 8 minutes… despite receiving nearly 500 a day.
It’s high time these car brands start to respond (way) more swiftly, increasing their volumes and reducing their response time to (at least!) under an hour.
Truthfully the dream – and the expectation of customers – is to receive a response in under 30 minutes…as you can see above.
And frankly, to call a spade a spade, GM has a brand new, beefed-up staff of 15 people – they should easily be able to knock out super-swift response times… especially with their currently rather low volume of about 150 tweets a day.
So tell us what you think! Do you wish your car company was more active on Twitter? Have you gotten some great advice through social media? (Or were you ignored?) Why should car companies continue to foster stellar social customer service?
Let us know!