What do you do when you have an unbelievably irritating customer experience? Ten years ago, you might have written a letter to a company executive or fired off an angry e-mail (knowing the chances it would be answered would be low). More often than not, you fumed quietly and told a few friends.
Enter social media.
Now, within seconds of the negative customer interaction, you can tell a few thousand friends all the gory details. And they can tell their friends. In the case of microblogging platforms like Twitter (News - Alert), even total strangers searching for information about a company can find your complaints.
No wonder Corporate America is a little nervous about social media.
They should be. According to a new study, a majority of American consumers claim brands are failing to meet their expectations. Many of these consumers turn to social media to wield greater influence. The 2012 American Express (News - Alert) Global Customer Service Barometer found that 93 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with the level of customer service provided by companies. A majority of them – 55 percent – claim to have walked away from a purchase because of a poor customer experience.
The most popular forms of communicating with a brand are still speaking to a representative, either over the phone or face-to-face, or through the company Web site or e-mail, according to the study.
But social customer service is on the rise: 17 percent of consumers say they have used social media at least once during the past year to obtain a customer service response. Additionally, this relatively small group of consumers is extremely engaged and vocal, MyCustomer.com reported today.
Social media represents a strong opportunity for forward-thinking companies. Not only is monitoring and managing social media a way to put out small fires before they become huge conflagrations, but companies can use social media to positively engage their customers, creating what is known as “net promoters, or “super fans” of company's brand who act like unpaid spokespeople across social media.