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How Social Media is Changing the Game for Customers

|Mar 12|magazine10 min read

Contributed by Matt Travers, founder of ServiceRage

 

Social media is turning customer care into a spectator sport and businesses that play like pros will be the winners in this new competitive environment.

Customer care used to be like a Sunday game of tennis in the park. Over traditional channels like the phone or face-to-face, it was a private interaction between the brand and the customer. It was important to the two participants but nobody was watching. No matter how passionately contested, if the brand made a mistake or performed poorly, it would impact just that customer. The customer might tell friends and family about the experience but this would be second-hand – nobody was analysing every mishit.

Social media turns the game of customer relationship management into a spectator sport. Much of the interaction occurs in public so customers, prospects and competitors can all follow along, analysing and judging the brand’s performance.

Take this example of an unhappy insurance customer:

“OMG @AAMI have AGAIN delayed the return of our car. I can't believe this. it's now going into the 4th month. DISGUSTING. WILL LEAVE. ANGRY.” - Laki Baker (@lakibaker)

The brand’s return is vague but public:

“@lakibaker Sorry for the delays - sometimes they're difficult to avoid but I'd like to see what's going on. email [email protected]? -Don” – AAMI Insurance (@AAMI)

The rally continues, again in public:

“@AAMI we've already emailed you Don and we haven't got a response - we did that last time we were delayed. I just want my at (sic) back.” – Laki Baker (@lakibaker)

Pretty soon spectators are chipping in with their own commentary:

“@lakibaker @aami why do they spend all that cash of rubbish ads then treat customers with contempt. Idiocy” - Davis Hoyle (@Davis_Hoyle)

 

And the TV news has been alerted:

“Hey @markgibbo i'm about to go postal at @AAMI ... potential @todaytonight story coming your way!!!!” – Laki Baker (@lakibaker)

All of a sudden, the customer care representative is playing at Wimbledon before a critical audience. The stakes are high for the brand and his performance is crucial.

Given this new arena, brands must consider whether their customer care teams are ready to turn pro. Do they have the training and skills to perform in public at the elite level? Social media is transforming often-underappreciated customer care staff into the public personification of the brand. The brands that have the best chance of winning in this new competitive environment will be the ones that treat their customer care teams like star performers.  

So how did this match finish? It might not be over, but the customer is sounding confident deep in the fifth set:

“A win for the little people! The WA ops manager for Suncorp, who own @aami agreed to give us a hire car free of charge until we get car back” - Laki Baker (@lakibaker)

 

About the Author

Matt Travers is the founder of service comparison website ServiceRage, which uses social media feedback to rank Australian banks, health insurers, energy companies, and general insurers. He has more than 15 years experience on the client and agency sides of digital marketing in Australia and Europe.