How does customer expectation affect the way in which you run your business? It doesn’t matter what sphere of industry you’re in the customer expects to be able to find you on line. Invariably they will. Word of Mouth and face to face are still key to the buying experience but in the age of Web 2.0 and hyper-reality Word of Mouth is equally an online experience as it is when it is through an IRL meeting either with a vendor or customer who already has the product or has used the service in question themselves.
Given that a large proportion of an individual’s time is taken up on social media with the average visit to Facebook lasting about 22 minutes, approximately half of the population of the US have a Facebook profile and a large proportion of them have a Titter accounts it’s not in any way surprising that social media is seen as being as such a huge influence in almost every industry’s marketing strategies. If your business isn’t on Facebook then where are you? how can you really be engaged with your client base if you’re not engaging them on social media across every platform and updating your status three or four times per day?
Of course it’s not really as drastic as that but consumer expectation does dictate that if you’re hard to find you’re not worth looking for. This means that if you’re a SME you’ll have to make time to deal with your social media presence without it impacting with your core activities, if you run a larger firm you may have to hire some-one in even though you may have never really wanted to develop a media profile beyond having a website where people could order on-line. Too bad, necessary evil in the 21 st century I’m afraid.
In a survey published in the 2010 American Customer Service Index customer satisfaction is falling across many social platforms and service providers such as Google and twitter. Unfortunately where customer satisfaction is concerned you have to move ever forward simply to remain standing still. It’s vital that the service you provide is fresh, updated and new, even if your product is perfect the way it is user satisfaction will begin to fall if it’s not seen to be developing. The perception being “Oh, it still just does that? What else is new?”
Once you’re involved in social media, either using it as part of your brand experience or just because every-one else is (I know your heart’s not in it, but come on, this is supposed to be fun!) you too have to keep on keeping on. A good social media strategy can keep your customers loyal and a loyal customer is a good customer, both good for your accounts and good for that hoary old Word of Mouth which is still so important.
The interactions that your customers/friends have throughout the internet can all be potential tips toward your company. With the number of people who read, or at least see every post and comment it’s a valuable resource to have, and one that’s free up until the point you have to employ some-one to devote their working day to enhancing your social media profile.
It transpires that more than 60% of people who read about some-one else having a bad experience with a company stopped using them or decided that they wouldn’t go to them if and when a need for their service arose.
And the numbers can only increase as the internet and Web 2.0 becomes ubiquitous, making it even more important that you handle your presence with care and professionalism. Once you’re immersed in social media you’ll see that it’s not only a way to promote yourself but deal with customer enquiries, handle complaints and manage your image. You can augment your entire PR activity by tying in your whole media with your other press and communications by installing a coherent message across traditional press, broadcast and new media outlets.
Dan Cash is a feature writer who’s mad it through the week and is now off to play some full tilt rakeback poker. If you’re up for a bit of armchair gaming maybe he’ll see you at the party poker tables.