NEW YORK — When it comes to customer service, consumers are increasingly turning to social-media channels.

According to a study released Thursday by NM Incite, a social-media insights provider and joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey, nearly half of all social-media users — 47 percent — seek customer service through social-media channels.

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The online survey of 2,000 social-media users across all ages and genders also revealed:

• Thirty percent of social-media users prefer to contact a brand for customer service through a social channel compared with the phone.

• Seventy-one percent of those who experience positive social care (i.e., a quick and effective brand response) are likely to recommend that brand to others, versus 19 percent of customers who do not receive any response. (Social care is a system for companies to regularly provide customer service through social-media platforms.)

• The majority of Twitter and Facebook users, 83 percent and 71 percent, respectively, expect a response from a brand within the same day of posting. More than 50 percent of Twitter social-care users expect a response within two hours of posting, according to a 2011 Oracle global survey.

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The survey also showed that a single negative customer experience posted in public can wipe out the effect of up to five positive customer messages.

The study found that 18- to 24-year-olds are the highest users of social care, with 60 percent of females and 57 percent of males actively seeking customer service through social-media channels. Among social-media users age 65-plus, nearly 30 percent have used social care, confirming wide adoption spanning all age groups. As for frequency, some 51 percent of socialmedia users engage in social care more than once a month, and almost one in 10 of those individuals use social media for customer service on a daily basis.

“What we’re seeing is that customers are turning to social-media channels for customer service, regardless of whether and where a particular brand is actually equipped to handle customer service over social media,” said Gadi BenMark, senior vice president of NM Incite’s Advisory division. “Today’s customers choose when and where they voice their questions, issues and complaints. They don’t care if a company is set up to answer customer questions on Facebook, or if it has an actual Twitter handle for customer service. The implications are enormous for brands that are not implementing effective social care. There is also great upside for those that understand that the lines between marketing and customer service are blurring, and take action to organize, operate and manage performance in this new merged world.”

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