The new age, social customer (Part 1): Who are they and what power do they have over your business?
Back in my day I used to work in one of Australia’s largest department stores, it was hell but that’s beside the point. Back in those days (which wasn’t all that long ago) unhappy customers, who wanted their way (which they all selfishly do…can you tell I am still scared?) used to threaten us innocent retailers with “I’m a lawyer” or “I am studying law” aka “I will sue you if I don’t get my way”. I found it very entertaining when they would say this, so if you are reading this and you threaten retailers with this stupid comment – we don’t care, we are laughing at you and you sound like an idiot.
My point to this is, that was once a threat, today it’s “I’m going to talk badly about your company on social media if you do not give me what I want” – now this one we care about.
The dawn of the digital age and the explosive growth of social media has evolved the buying cycle and brought along with it the rise of a new customer – one that has the ability to shake up even the most respected brands.
The Social Customer is every man, woman and child that is an active participant of social media – roughly 1.4 billion people. Social media has power, a stronger more threatening power. It’s pretty evident for consumers today that going public with a complaint will generate a better response than traditional customer service (face to face, email & phone). The easiest part of it, is you don’t need hundreds of followers or fans to get a reaction out of the companies who’s name you drop in a tweet or post. Consumers 18 to 29-years-old are more likely to use a brand’s social media site for customer service interactions (43%) than for marketing (23%)
Heather Armstrong of dooce.com writes of a rather dramatic example of how the use of Twitter helped combat a bad customer service experience. After her brand new $1,300 washing machine broke down, after several attempts of repairs, after waiting 10 days for repairs parts to find out the repairer needed to order more parts, after talking to a disinterested Maytag customer service rep and then ANOTHER disinterested Maytag supervisor, Heather turned to Twitter and it worked!
Not only did she spread her bad customer service experience with Maytag to her millions of followers, not only did she finally get the response she was after but a Maytag’s competitor, Bosch, was also listening and they took the opportunity to gain a new customer and showcase good customer service. You can read her full story here.
More than one million people view Tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of these Tweets are critical or negative by nature.
Now this is where things turn. I completely agree that asking a question or requesting some assistance with a faulty product/service publicly is okay. HOWEVER, some people go a little too far.
Your company can encounter at least two types of unsatisfied customers communicating with you over social media:
- A person who was genuinely hoping for a good experience with your product or service, had a bad experience and simply wants to vent and seek acknowledgment or a solution.
- Someone who actively uses social media to dissuade people from doing business with your company, and probably doesn’t care about your reply to his or her claims. This person hopes you do reply so he or she can drag you into a public fight.
Read Part:2 to find out why customers are turning to the internet and social media to complain and how your business can handle both types of social customers.
My question to you is – have we become culturally conditioned to complain about anything and everything or is every companies ‘not up to standards’ customer service warranted to be public knowledge?