- 59% of consumers use social media to vent their frustrations about customer service experience, and research other companies’ customer service before dealing with them
- 74% choose companies/brands based on others’ customer-care experiences shared online
- 72% research companies’ customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes
- 84% consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company
- 81% say blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% say they believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously
- Search engines are the most valuable online tools for this research. Those rated of no value include micro-blogging sites like Twitter (39%), YouTube (27%) and social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace (22%)
What does this research mean for companies and organizations?
First, organizations must monitor social media--period.
Companies need to know what their happy and unhappy customers are
saying and how their brand is being discussed online.
Second, if 59% of customers are complaining via Twitter, their blogs and Facebook, brands must go where they are
and meet them in their spaces. Don't expect customers to play by your
rules and call in their complaints via your comment or complaint line;
outreach is essential.
Third, offer to help. Online complaints deserve online responses. Frank Eliaison of Comcast has the right idea: simply go in asking, "can I help?" No defensiveness, no addressing customers' exaggerated claims. Just askwhat you can do.
Fourth, track your own customer service ratings and interactions online. The number I found the most stunning here was that 72% of consumers check a company's customer service reputation online before purchasing goods or services. I pessimistically believe that if that were really the case, companies such as AT&T and Dell, with notoriously bad customer service ratings, would never garner any new customers. Still, knowing that consumers are educated and verifying our reputations means that companies need to, too. And doing social media outreach such as Comcast is modeling right now can cause a huge shift in attitude, even if overall customer service is still lacking.
Finally, read Linda's great advice in the above-quoted article on
managing reputation online. She gives some great tips for handling
negative comments and feedback, especially via Twitter.