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Consumers Relying on Social Media to Share and Research Customer Care Experiences

April 22, 2008

With more and more people turning to social media for both business and personal interactions, the use of this channel has now also become a platform where consumers are sharing their personal experiences and opinions on companies and the customer service they receive.

 
Social media platforms provide the informed consumer with information not only about others' care experiences, but also helps in shaping their purchase decisions.
 
These findings are part of a new research study, "Exploring the Link Between Customer Care and Brand Reputation in the Age of Social Media," from the Society for New Communications Research, which found that consumers are using social media to do research on companies and vent about their experiences.
 
For the study, more than 300 consumers who are active Internet users were surveyed to get a closer look at the ways in which customer care influences brand reputation, given the widespread adoption of social media.
 
The survey uncovered that 59.1 percent of the respondents used social media to "vent" about a customer care experience while 72.2 percent used social media as a way of researching a companies' customer care online before making a purchase at least sometimes.
 
"This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies: 25- to 55-years old, college-educated, earning $100,000+ - a very powerful group in terms of buying behavior," said Dr. Ganim Nora Barnes, senior fellow, Society for New Communications Research.
 
"These most savvy and sought after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve."
 
Just how many people are relying on this method in their final purchasing decisions? According to the survey, 74 percent said they choose companies/brands based on others' customer care experiences shared online.
 
In fact, customer care is playing an increasingly important role in consumer's decisions to do business with a company. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said they consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company.

"With consumers increasingly using social media to share feedback on their care experiences, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to ignore or hide from bad experiences," said Lynda Kate Smith, vice president, Care Business, Nuance Enterprise Division.
 
 "Our mission is to help organizations better support, communicate with, and understand their customers during customer care interactions. As this research highlights, the consumer's voice is louder and travels further than ever before. One poor customer interaction can have a very significant impact on a public impression of a brand."

 
The research for this report was sponsored by Nuance Communications and the final results of the survey will be highlighted in the Society's Journal of New Communications Research, which will published in a full report later this year.
 
 
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.
 
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