Customer Experience Featured Article

Social Media: Linchpin of the Customer Experience

March 17, 2015

There are a couple statistics out there that show the value of customer experience: Lee Resource once noted that, for every one customer complaint, there are an average of 26 other customers who just didn't speak up. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs noted that an upset customer will tell, on average, between nine and 15 people about a bad experience. With these two facts in mind, it's worth another look at just what kind of impact social media can have on a business, particularly in regard to the customer experience.

Perhaps the biggest point to consider is that 47 percent of Americans call Facebook the biggest influence on purchases found. Naturally, other social media systems work in here too—YouTube (News - Alert) and Tumblr come pretty close—but Facebook is the biggest, and the prize that many businesses are actively pursuing. Indeed, reports note that 78 percent of businesses have active, dedicated social media teams, up from 67 percent in just 2012.

It carries on from there; 63 percent of millennials stay updated on brands via social media, and 51 percent look to social opinions to provide at least some influence on buying decisions. 46 percent go so far to say that social media is “count(ed) on” to make decisions in online buying, and perhaps in the grandest point of all, 77 percent of social media users are accessing social media at least somewhat through mobile devices.

This means that not only are customers turning to social media in large numbers for online purchases, but brick-and-mortar stores are likewise impacted by social media as users take the media contact of choice on the road. At essentially every point of contact with the customer, there is a browser window or app open somewhere, with someone looking for something about the products being offered. That can be good news or bad news depending on the company's performance in the field, but it's really just the start. Remember those two statistics noted previously? How every one complaint means about another 26 that kept quiet? How many of those 26 took complaints instead to social media, telling those nine to 15 people—or more!—about a bad customer experience? How many of those complaints are now coming in contact with the 63 percent of millennials that stay updated on brands via social media? This is a good bit of why businesses are bringing in dedicated social media teams; being able to respond to complaints rapidly can help show that concerns are taken seriously, and teach those 26 who kept quiet that problems are fixed when such emerge. No one denies a business can have problems from time to time—any human-built system will inevitably break down at some point—but problems fixed quickly and made right are the hallmark of a quality operation.

This is the point where every business must ask itself: do we want to be the business that fixes a problem quickly and makes it clear how, or the business that doesn't look like it cares? The answer to that question will determine how the business responds to social media's existence, and in all likelihood, the business most likely to survive the next several years.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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