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Is social media affecting your bottom line?

We have all heard the adage ‘a satisfied customer will tell two to three people about their experience,  but a dissatisfied consumer will share their negative experience with eight to ten people, or even more’.

But, when you consider the average person on Facebook has 130 friends, does this saying still provide a fair indication of the reach that one individual has in today’s society?

Social media, while serving many opportunities to create customer engagement, can be problematic for businesses if used by frustrated consumers to vent about a poor experience to their friends. Often this is done without the intention to inflict enormous damage on a brand’s image, however we have seen many examples (a few spring to mind but I won’t add to their misery by mentioning them again here) of businesses being burnt through negative social media posts that have garnered far more attention than a complaint submitted via a hotline or feedback form.

So with one negative social media comment capable of damaging a business’s reputation, it is essential that businesses endeavour to make customer service their number one priority.

Consumers will consider many factors before making a purchasing decision, such as price, brand loyalty and convenience, but peer reviews and the experience had by others are considered to be highly influential factors in their decision-making process.

In the service industry, one of the biggest customer irks is the wide appointment windows they are given for mobile technicians to complete a job. A guideline of six hours is no longer considered good enough by consumers, particularly if they fail to show up within the allotted window time, or even worse – if they fail to show up at all.

Another common customer complaint is when a technician does not resolve an issue first time around. Failing to ‘get it right first time’ and having to make a return visit to a customer’s home is not only a significant cost to the business in terms of time but the potential cost to an organisations’ brand and reputation can be considerable.

Getting it right the first time will mean customer satisfaction is higher, and the flow on effect means that service providers can expect to receive more positive online reviews than negative.

The balance of power has shifted

The role of service technicians has changed dramatically over recent years; shifting from one of operational necessity to strategic significance. The field employee has very much become the ‘face’ of the company as they are often the only one to have direct contact with customers in their business or home; however it is also increasingly likely that the field worker will be the only contact the customer has at all.

Customers are becoming more demanding and expecting more even though they are spending less, and there is also an increased likelihood that customers will complain. Because of social media, the range of channels available to share these complaints is greater than ever before, and its ability to reach a wide ranging audience can be highly damaging. This leaves companies with little option but to deliver a superior customer experience and ensure they are visible and responsive in order to manage their brand reputation effectively.

About the Author

Tom Scahill is the Business Area Director, ANZ at Trimble Navigation.

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