Posts tagged ‘social media in business’

The customer could be King again

I recently lost my Edgars Cash Card and trudged to the local store to get a new one.  The cashier, however, could not track my old card on the system and said it was impossible to transfer my accumulated purchase points to my new card. (Apparently, the card registration form I filled in years ago was not properly captured on their system).

But hell hath no fury like a shopaholic who doesn’t get her money’s worth.

I drove home, logged on to HelloPeter.com, and made this not-so-polite complaint.

Within 12 minutes, Vanessa from their Customer Services Centre responded to it, assuring me that the local store manager would contact me to resolve the problem.  She did, the very next day. We met, talked briefly, she apologised for her staff’s blunder, and I received a R150 voucher for the “inconvenience” caused to me.

Don’t you just love how empowering social media can be? Now we don’t have to grumble quietly about inefficient customer service.  Tell it to millions of people around the world instead, and see how quickly companies sit up and take notice.

Impressive Influence

Research conducted in April 2008 by a US social media think tank reveals how influential social media is on customers’ decisions and perceptions.  Here are some of the stats, taken from local marketing strategist Walter Pike’s article:

  • 59.1% of respondents use social media to “vent” about a customer care experience
  • 72.2% of respondents research companies’ customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes
  • 84% of respondents consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company
  • 74% choose companies/brands based on others’ customer care experiences shared online
  • 81% believe that blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% believe that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously.

I’m not an online marketing guru, but I do know that web users have a greater degree of influence as producers and co-creators of information.  It’s common knowledge that this has changed media-audience relationships, but it has also altered the company-customer dynamic.  

Customers now have a more powerful platform from which to voice their complaints and hold businesses accountable for shoddy service.  Consequently, companies’ PR staffs have their jobs cut out for them with regard to brand and image management, since all it takes is a Google search to find dirt on these ‘corportate culprits’.

However, social media does not only benefit customers.  It is also proving to be incredibly useful to local and global businesses, who are increasingly adopting it for advertising and marketing purposes.  More on this in my next post.

14 August, 2008 at 3:10 pm 3 comments


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