Customers Talking Back

Customers Talk Back

Photo courtesy of shjauzmn on Flickr


ROI Research and Performics

59% of consumers turn to social media to compare prices on brands.

56% use the venue to talk about sales and specials.

53% do so to provide feedback to a brand or retailer.

50% go there to give advice.

50% want advice on what to purchase.

49% want to talk about where to purchase online.

47% want to voice their disappointment in a purchase or brand.

47% want to talk about where to purchase offline.

47% want to talk about current styles or models.

36% turn to social media for customer service.

THOUGHT: The most obvious conclusion about these data is that people turn to social media to find economic value. It will be interesting to see if the primary reasons people discuss brands there will remain the same when we pull out of this recession or if that behavior will remain entrenched when people again have pocket money to burn.

But it is the other set of attitudes that has caused many a brand to wade cautiously into the social media waters: Customers now talk back.

They want to talk back. They want to provide their feedback, give their advice, and express their disappointment. And this new dynamic has freaked out more than a few companies because 1) customers have never had that power before, and 2) most companies are completely unprepared to hold those conversations.

It’s been my experience, though, that once companies get acclimated, they find out their worst fears go unrealized. Social media is not the brand-trashing playground they believed it to be.

And even when customers voice their complaints online, if those complaints are simply acknowledged, more often than not that’s enough to quiet them down. People just want to be heard and often, when they know you’re listening, they’ll tamp down their criticism and even apologize.

I’ve seen this happen over and again.

But it is the companies and brands who deliberately build a community among their customers who reap the greatest dividends.

I’ve seen many instances of a brand’s community coming to the defense of a brand when confronted with an unreasonable critic. Brand fans will often point out how unreasonable the critic is and why without any prompting by the company itself.

Unreasonable people tend to out themselves as such so sometimes it’s best to let things play out a bit to see if your fans will take care of business.


FOLLOW FRIDAY: John Battelle is a great search marketing mind and author of The Search.


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