Social media gives organizations unprecedented access to their customers. Some companies have seized the opportunity to engage, while others continue to languish in tactics that have long since proven outdated and ineffective.
Customers are eager to share their experiences—good and bad—to help others receive the same positive service or avoid poor service. Personal recommendations have always been the gold standard of marketing. A recent study by Accenture found that when respondents were deciding whether to do business with a service provider, 76% relied primarily on word of mouth, and 56% considered it the most important factor.
Social media makes sharing these recommendations faster and easier than ever. But it also enables companies to “listen in” and respond to them. A quick response to a negative incident can “save” a customer who may have defected to the competition. When problems occur, customers want consideration, communication, and resolution.
Unfortunately, I seem to receive an inordinate amount of mediocre service. I’m not sure if this is the norm for everyone, but it definitely is for me. When I unexpectedly receive superior service or encounter a product that goes beyond my expectations, I tend to share that information.
Last week, I decided to be more budget-conscious with my lunch choices, opting to eat at home instead of running out for fast food. Since I don’t cook, eating at home usually means heating up a frozen meal in the microwave.
I don’t have high expectations for frozen food, but it’s usually OK, and sometimes, when I splurge and buy the organic meals, it’s pretty good. Convenience and affordability are my top priorities, while taste is secondary. As I perused the frozen food aisle at the grocery store, I noticed that some of the Stouffers items were on sale for less than $2 each. So I added 3 or 4 to my cart, pleased with the great deal.
I was completely surprised when I tried my first meal and discovered that it was indeed quite good. Immediately, I decided to send out a tweet to announce my good fortune and recommend the product to others. I included @Stouffers in the tweet and went on with my day.
In less than 30 minutes, Stouffers responded. Here’s the exchange:
As you can see, Stouffers (owned by Nestlé) is listening on Twitter, engaging with customers in a conversational way that enforces their brand. I was impressed and hopeful that others will adopt the same model.
Simply by opening the channels of communication, any organization can deliver a superior customer experience. It just takes a commitment to a more effective—and very straightforward—customer retention practice: listen and respond.