Social networking and the speed of complaining
Our ability to communicate instantly through the use of social media can very quickly damage the reputation of any organisation whatever the size. Ever since my first visit to the States in 2000 I have been critical of customer service we generally receive in the UK. Americans seem to realise that the experience provided by staff determines what you as a customer will feel and say to others and is in fact a marketing tool. There has never been a time when I have approached a pay point only to be ignored by two assistants talking about their personal life.
Organisations are aware of the growing importance of social media as a sales tool but have they considered its relevance as a customer service tool.
Social networking is only going to increase over the coming years as the growth in mobile interaction platforms increases. For the first time an immediate emotional response to a situation is available. You know the feeling when you have had a poor customer experience, no longer do you have to wait to send a letter or email to the company, instead you are able to vent your feelings immediately to the hundreds of other potential customers who follow your profile. Already search mechanisms are being launched that will find these conversations thereby extending the reach of the complaint.
In a recent study by CPP Group, they looked at what was considered poor customer service and how quick costomers are in telling their friends and family about their experiences. In this study they saw a growing trend toward using social networking to share frustrations rather than telephoning or writing to the company directly. The statistics included:
“…. young adults under the age of 35 could do the most damage to an organisation’s reputation as they are most likely to talk about poor customer service online. Nearly three in ten (28.6%) of 16-24 year olds and two in ten (19.2%) 25-34 year olds would specifically use Facebook, versus only 2.7% of consumers aged 45-54 years old; highlighting the persuasive influence of this single website”.
Source: CPP Group Plc survey (CPP White paper on Customer Service)
The above shows that customer service must become a key part of the marketing mix and can no longer be treated as a ‘lip service’ department dealing with the odd query and fielding occasional complaints.
In face to face situations remember that the assistant behind the counter represents your brand, your product, your quality. If they get it wrong research suggests you could pay dearly.
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.