According to the 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer study, the social customer is the one to watch – they are tuned into social media and tend to spend more where they feel customer service is top-notch. Not only will they spend more, they will tell more people than the “traditional” customer.
Who is the social customer? This is the group of social media savvy customers who use social media not only for connecting with friends and family, but for customer service from businesses they frequent. According to the study, this is a relatively small group, with only 17% of participants stating that they’ve used social media for customer service purposes. While they are small in number, they are engaged and outspoken, and appear to be having a direct effect on customer service and business in general.
Seems like a tall order for such a small group, but consider some of the findings from this study. People who have used social media for customer service at least once in the last year are:
- willing to spend substantially more (21%) with companies they believe provide great service, compared to the general population who is willing to spend 13% more
- more vocal about service experiences, both good and bad, telling twice as many people about their experiences than the general population does (social customers tell 53 people about an experience; the general population tells 24)
- willing to bail because of poor customer service – more than 80% of social customers have bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55% of the general population.
Interestingly, whether or not you’re considered a social customer, people are talking more about customer service in general. This study shows that
- Americans will tell an average of 15 people about positive experiences – up 67% from 9 last year
- Americans will tell an average of 24 people about poor experiences – up 50% from 16 in 2011
So, even if you’re not a social customer, you may be sharing your experience with someone who is. If that social customer listens to your experience and shares it online, you are becoming a social customer by default, or at least your experience is. And, if the study is accurate in that people tend to share negative experiences more often than positive, that could lend credence to the social customer being the one to watch. They will be online sharing experiences and driving word of mouth across the board, which can ultimately impact a company on its front lines.
Paying attention to your social customer is vital. Even if you’re engaged in social networks, it is possible that your customers aren’t talking on your sites; instead, they could be blogging about their experiences, participating in forums, or using social networks that your company isn’t. In addition to social media marketing, it is a good idea for companies to utilize a social media monitoring service as well to keep your finger on the pulse of the social customer. Social media monitoring can:
- Collect all online conversations surrounding your brand, giving you a sense of the customer satisfaction perception online
- Easily find and address dissatisfied customers to alleviate issues and show that your company cares
- Identify potential challenges in customer service and make changes as needed
- When negative content strikes, monitoring tools will allow you to see how quickly the news is traveling, as well as the influence of those talking about it for better damage control
You can read the rest of the study to learn more about the findings related to customer service in general. As a business, this is a good read to better understand what customers are thinking in terms of where they do business. Ensuring that some basic customer service needs are met every time will go a long way in customer loyalty.