Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Social Media Response Time, Are You Fast Enough

Waiting for an EmailSocial Customer Service

I knew it was bad, but just didn’t know how bad. I’m talking about the average time it takes for a company to respond, via different social media channels. A recent study put out by Eptica evaluated 500 US retailers’ ability to respond, by asking ten routine questions. The average amount of time it takes for many of these companies to reply is staggeringly disappointing.

Here are a few of the stats and facts:

  • For email the average response time was 7 hours and 51 minutes!
  • For Facebook the average response time was one day, 3 hours and 7 minutes!
  • For Twitter the average response time was one day, 7 hours and 12 minutes!

This is nuts! If I have a problem, and I contact the company, I don’t want to have to wait almost eight hours to get a response. Maybe all I have is a simple question, I’m not even upset or angry. But, due to the frustration of having to wait hours, or even a day or more, for a response; my simple question becomes a customer service debacle.

Is it just me? As it turns out, most customers are a little more tolerant than I am, but they still experience frustration. The Eptica study also polled 1,000 consumers on how long they were willing to wait when they connected with the companies through these channels. While most people are more accepting of the longer wait times; their patience doesn’t last as long as the average company makes them wait. In the case of Facebook and Twitter, they aren’t even close.

  • 77% of consumers won’t wait more than six hours for an email response.
  • 85% of consumers using Facebook expect an answer within six hours.
  • 64% of consumers using Twitter expect a response within an hour.

All this looks like gloom and doom in the world of customer service, but there is good news. Yes, there are some rock stars out there who put others to shame. Some of these great companies respond within a minute or less. But more importantly, this report is a wake-up call for all of us.

Quick response matters! Look at this report and determine which industry you’re in. And, if you feel that B2B doesn’t apply, you’re wrong. Regardless of the industry and the numbers, the concept of quick response is universal. When your customer has a question, they want an answer. When your customer has a problem, they want it resolved. And most don’t want to wait a day or two for you to get back to them.

My suggestion is to take some action. First, download the report, it’s free. Then, take a look at your response times. And consider this, while the response times focus on outside customers, how long do you take to respond to the people you work with, also known as your internal customers? Those are very important customers as well!

(For the “Cliff Notes” version of the study, Eptica has created an infographic of the results.)

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXV, Shep Hyken)

  1. For Facebook business pages, I’m in love with the new message response time icon. Have you seen this Shep? If your business page responds to private messages in five minutes or less (on average), you get a bright green bubble on your page. It still tracks response time, and shows this data to all admins. Once you reach 5 minutes or less, you earn that little green badge. That lets all fans and followers know you’re in tune with speedy customer service and support.

  2. Jeff Toister says:

    @KLM shows their current response time right on their Twitter profile. It’s a great way to let customers know they’re on the ball!

  3. Hi, I worry for the world we are creating… I stumbled across this article whilst searching for ‘acceptable response times’ out of frustration at a friend who text me last night just texting me again tonight to ask if I got her text. Almost as annoying as phone messages either following or followed by emails asking the same thing at work… I’m not sure we appreciate enough the costs to human health (and indirectly relationships) of expecting such immediate responses. Urgent versus what’s really important comes to mind… I personally greatly respect organisations which go against the grain, valuing their staff’s wellbeing, setting realistic and healthy response times over those who encourage an ‘always on’ ‘the faster the better mentality’.

    • A fast response time is crucial to stay competitive. A friend texting you is not a business relationship. That said, a reasonable amount of time (usually defined by the friend, not you) is what you should go for. If the friend’s expectation is unreasonable, tell them. After all, they are your friend!

  4. Just want to add a small thing. when it comes to social media customer service, Facebook is more important than Twitter. facebook has way more users than Twitter, and your customers are more in numbers there, so expect more complaints/suggestions on facebook than twitter. I am not a fan of twitter-centric customer service model that a good number of companies, big and small, employ.

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