Listen Up! The Intersection of Poor Customer Service and New Customer Acquisition in Social Media
In traditional brick and mortar stores, unhappy customers can simply walk out and never look back if they are unsatisfied with the product, service, or customer service. Once they voice their opinion and decide to move on, who is there to grab the customer’s attention, loyalty, and most importantly, their wallet after the negative experience? The short answer is no one. However, in social channels, we’re able to clearly identify when a customer is unhappy by listening and picking up on their tone of voice and dissatisfaction. How can companies capitalize on their competitors’ mistakes?
There are several ways in which brands can use social media to actively listen, add value to conversations, engage with unhappy customers, and provide specific calls to action for follow-up support and potential acquisition. The actual threat of losing customers and share of business is no longer just a possibility, but a reality. Companies must strive to provide high levels of customer care via social and triage customer service issues in a timely and effective manner.
So just how important is it for brands to quickly and effectively reply to customer issues via social channels? A report by Edison Research found that 42% of consumers who complained via social media expected a response within 60 minutes. An NM Incite study from 2012 also suggests that 71% of those who experienced positive social customer care were likely to recommend that brand to others, compared with just 19% of customers who didn’t get a response. These statistics alone strongly indicate that providing customers with a positive experience in social channels should be a top priority that is taken seriously by brands.
One primary objective of “competitive social listening and monitoring” is for brands to identify unhappy customers and explore the underlying reasons for dissatisfaction. Brands that can successfully intercept messaging at the highest level of customer frustration may be able to persuade customers to think about an alternative option when it comes to the product/service at hand. The response can become even stronger if the competitor brand reaches out to the customer before the issue is addressed by the current service or product provider. This type of gesture can demonstrate a level of care and empathy for the dissatisfied customer, and can simultaneously provide an alternative solution.
I experienced this situation a few weeks ago when I was dealing with my cable and internet service provider. After being on the phone with a service rep for over 45 minutes and not receiving any valuable assistance or resolution to my issue, I signed into Twitter and tweeted about the poor customer service and my level of frustration (“@mentioning” my provider directly). Within 5 minutes (see actual tweets and timeline below), I received a tweet from another cable service provider who empathized with my situation and offered to chat with me about their service offerings. The competitor brand also noted that they were #1 in customer service. About 30 minutes later, I finally heard back from my current service provider, and had my issue resolved; I did not end up switching my services. However, I was impressed with the quick response from the competitor brand. They picked up on my frustration and acted on the opportunity to assist me, which could have led to the acquisition of a new customer on their end.
The opportunity is ripe for companies to participate in relevant conversations on social networks and provide outstanding service to their customers. In addition, brands should consistently monitor their competition and be aware of situations where they can add value and assist individuals who are unhappy with the competitor’s product, service, or level of customer support. When customers advertise their emotions and frustrations on social media, they are fully cognizant of the “broadcast effect”; at times, they want others to empathize with them and offer support. The support offered may even provide them with an opportunity to ditch their current brand and find a new one that can meet their needs.
The practice of competitive listening is easier said than done. Brands need to take the opportunity seriously, put some thought into their social media monitoring strategies, and strive to become proactive listeners versus solely reactive. Processes must be put in place and decisions made as to when it’s appropriate to intersect customer conversations. Think about where your brand can add value and if the potential for new sales and customer acquisition is present. Why wait for customer service to kick in after the problem has already occurred? Why not before? Call it social customer outreach.
Eric Yale is a Consultant in the Social Media Practice at Accenture Interactive based out of the Boston, MA office. As a social business strategist, he works with clients to help them achieve profitable growth through digital channels and use of digital technologies to engage their customers more effectively and efficiently. He has worked with some of the world’s largest brands across ...
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