It should be no secret to anyone reading this that social media is all powerful when it comes to connecting brands and organisations to customers. Or, in fact, that customer service has changed radically and for good thanks to the social web. But despite the fact that, incredibly, 70% of customer complaints on social media are ignored in favour of self-promotion and marketing puff, it is the day-to-day activity of responding to queries, questions and grievances that has the greatest impact on whether or not a customer will make a purchase.
A report by American Express into consumer attitudes towards customer services states that a huge 83% of people who regularly use social media have ditched a purchase due to poor service experience. Among the general population, the figure is just 55%. So what does this tell us? One of the key learnings, and something that all brands and organisations should listen to, is that social media users are far less prepared to put up with poor service standards and are significantly more decisive when it comes to acting when things go wrong.
So why is this? Social media connects people. And it does so through personal contact on a very human level. It imbues people with a greater sense of self and of personal value than they’ve had before. So when a brand or organisation doesn’t live up to the expectation of being treated as a person, the dissonance is amplified. Social media users don’t have unrealistic expectations, but they do expect to be treated as individuals and to know that a company genuinely cares about them and is trying to address their issues.
Importantly, not only are regular social media users considerably more likely to bail on a purchase due to poor service standards, but they’re also more likely to tell their friends about it. On average, social media users tell 53 people about bad experiences, more than double that of the general population, who tell 24 people. So these consumer groups are not only decisive, but they’re also both vocal and influential.
The number of consumers using social media to talk to companies has nearly doubled in the UK inside of a year from 19% to 36%, according to a Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research study. With this in mind, to ignore them makes no business sense whatsoever. If you fall into this group, you must start to place greater emphasis on communicating with your customers via social media channels in an open, timely and responsive manner or start to suffer the consequences. Use Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to address the issues of your customers and to create beneficial connections with them that will encourage loyalty. And remember that every time a comment or a mention goes unanswered, you could be losing a sale.
What are your experiences? Do you think companies are as bad at customer service on social media as these reports suggest? And as a social media user, have you walked away from a purchase due to poor service standards?