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Social media boosts customer service abilities

OCTOBER 4, 2011 – An online survey or community panel can help guide development of new ad campaigns or products, but companies also conduct market research to learn how to serve their customer bases better.

According to BtoB magazine, an easier means of measuring consumer sentiment is to reach out to customers and monitor what they are saying on social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, and review websites such as Yelp.

Simply watching for and doing damage control on customers’ outcries posted to the websites may leave businesses at a disadvantage and put them behind the competition. Companies would be better off being self-starting, Natalie Petouhoff, a former analyst and now social media authority, told the news source.

“Social media moves so fast that businesses that are not proactive end up losing customers, and revenue and profit,” she said.

If a company is able to act ahead of customers publicly voicing their problems with a product or service, it will be able to fix existing problems and nip emerging ones in the bud, the magazine reports.

The source reminds readers, “A single irate customer can reach tens of thousands of people with one tweet.”

A survey run by Maritz Research and evolve24 found that customers actually want brands and business to reach out to them after they’ve posted a complaint, but few companies have done so.

“Businesses cannot effectively compete without being tuned in to social media to improve the customer experience,” stated the senior vice president and managing director of evolve24, Anthony Sardella. “But they must get the messaging right. The best brand marketing provides responsive customer service, and does not use a customer experience event as an opportunity to sell something.”

Customers want to feel as if the businesses care about their opinions, the study revealed, and the rise of social media has changed their expectations about the level of service they receive.

Just one-third of survey respondents said they received a response when they posted a complaint on Twitter, but almost three-quarters of those who did hear back from a company said they were happy with the response they got. On the flip side, 86 percent of the group that heard nothing from brands said they would have “liked or loved to hear from the company.”