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New trend in customer service as businesses are urged to embrace social media

10 Nov 2009

Companies should embrace social media as part of their customer service strategy to meet growing demand and consumer expectations, according to new research by first direct

The research revealed that 79 per cent of Brits regularly use social media each month.  It also illustrated that a quarter of respondents who share online, use social media to tell the world how good a company is and 56 per cent of consumers use the web to help make purchasing decisions. 

As consumers increasingly use social media and are more open and honest in the way they communicate online, it appears they have expectations of businesses following suit;

  • 78 per cent of Brits are more likely to buy from brands that are open and honest
  • 72 per cent are more likely to trust a company that share's their customer feedback online
  • 52 per cent cite the internet as raising their expectations of what good customer service constitutes 

But it seems that many businesses are missing the mark and ignoring the customer service opportunities that social media offers.  When asked which companies consumers consider to be open online giants scored most highly, such as Google (37 per cent) and Amazon (35 per cent, followed by British institutions such as M&S (34 per cent); the Co-operative (33 per cent) and the BBC (32 per cent). 

The banking sector had the worst scores for openness, but first direct has recently looked to change that by launching a social media site ( that features both positive and negative comments from customers. 

The microsite aggregates consumer opinions from eight million social media sites. From this, first direct is looking to understand and utilise the key themes voiced by consumers and respond in order to demonstrate excellent customer service.  

Lisa Wood, Head of Marketing at first direct , said:  "The research shows that the banking sector does not score well when it comes to openness and transparency, but this is something we've started to change at first direct . We want to show that have listened to our customers' comments by addressing their feedback and queries.  

"It's a move not many brands, let alone banks, would be able to do but our research clearly shows that customers expect openness and honesty in the businesses they trust and recommend. Now that we've listened, we want to take the next step and utilise this information in order to take appropriate action. 

"As well as the positive, we also encouraged uncensored feedback on a range of issues and are continuing to invite everyone to participate in the conversation at as we consider it to be a huge success." 

first direct commissioned the research to understand the value consumers place on openness, and the expectations of consumers towards businesses in this new age of openness.  

first direct is the UK's leading online bank.  For more information about internet banking with first direct , visit or call 0800 24 24 24. 


For further information or interviews with first direct , please contact Jessica Davenport ( on 0113 220 0505 or Charlotte Brophy ( on 0113 220 0538. 

Note to editors:

first direct undertook research with 2,095 adults between 16-18 September 2009.  This survey was carried out by YouGov plc among GB adults aged 18+.  Data is weighted to be representative of the GB population.

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