The combination of social media and smartphones has created a new consumer relationship for supermarkets. In a market where prices are elastic and online delivery services are on the rise, customer loyalty is often fickle. Therefore brands have to differentiate themselves in new ways. Providing a great customer experience, both in store and on social, is chief among ways for companies to differentiate themselves.

After all, social is influential on grocery customers. Based on recommendations from social networking, 86% of shoppers would be willing purchase a new food and, even more shockingly, 76% would be likely to shop at a different store entirely.

According to the Retail Feedback Group’s US Supermarket Experience 2013, while three-quarters of supermarket shoppers use at least one form of social media with regularity, only one-quarter of shoppers are connected in some way to their primary grocery store on social. This is an important gap that supermarkets need to address in the face of ever-growing competition and ever-diminishing brand and store loyalty.

With this in mind, we used our Twitter Performance Tracker to look at how 21 North American supermarkets and grocery stores use Twitter as a customer service channel.

Grocery Store and Super Market Social Customer Service

Grocery Store Social Customer Service Response Times

With an average response time of 5 hours, 10 minutes, it is safe to say that response times are not meeting consumer expectations. Brands who are not delivering fast and helpful responses to customer service issues are missing a huge opportunity. Allrecipes found that 45% of all of their users are researching products on their smartphone. 45% are finding locations or directions to store on their device, and 33% are checking prices before shopping. Past research from Conversocial showed that over 10% of customer service tweets to retailers are in-store. Hence, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a sizable number of customers are tweeting while in store, making a response time of minutes rather than hours a missed opportunity.

Grocery Store Social Customer Service Responsiveness

While response time is key, we also wanted to observe how responsive each company was as a whole. This is difficult to measure objectively, as some companies may have many mentions that do not require any response. However, in an analysis across our retail customer base we found that 31% of incoming messages they received on Twitter required a response. Three of the grocery stores analyzed responded to over 31%––in fact, each of the three responded to over 60%. The other 18, however, responded to under 30% of direct mentions.

While some brands already excel at customer service over social, social customer service for many companies is still either an offshoot of their social marketing, or a secondary activity. However, consumer expectations for quick and quality customer service over social continue to increase (especially among younger generations). And because social service is public, potential and current customers see the exceptional, horrible or non-existent service your brand is providing. Social must become a fundamental part of how companies approach customer service; with a dedicated team of real social customer service agents, who have real ownership of their performance (for example response times, customer satisfaction and sentiment), and software that’s created for these needs.

For those in the grocery industry in particular, the business case for offering stellar social customer service is a clear one, with high stakes but tangible results. With early social customer service adoption being one of the few ways to secure a competitive advantage. To learn how to offer social customer at scale get in touch with one of Conversocial’s social customer service experts today.