Online customers care about customer care – do you?

We have all walked away from a supplier because it has failed to provide the level of care we expect. New research shows the growing importance of customer care and the role that the internet plays. A recent study by the Society for New Communications Research entitled 'Exploring the link between customer care and brand reputation in the age of social media', studied 300 active internet users, and found that 59.1% use social media to 'vent their feelings' about customer care experiences. Among the study's other main findings:
  • 72.2% of respondents said they research companies' customer care online before purchasing products and services.
  • 84% said they consider the quality of customer care in their decision to do business with a company.
  • 74% said they choose companies or brands based on others' customer care experiences that are shared online.
  • 81% believe that blogs, online rating systems, and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care but 22% believe that social networking sites are of no value in gathering this information.
What is most worrying is that less than one-third believe that businesses take customers' opinions seriously. In short, customer care matters to them but they don’t think it matters to the companies they are buying from. So often ecommerce companies put great cost and effort into building a great on-line experience but as soon as the customer needs help, it all falls apart. Emails are responded to slowly and sometimes not at all; call centres are a nightmare to deal with, with endless menus and lengthy waits with only mind numbing muzak for company and after sales service is non existant. But these can be great opportunities to grow business. Companies forget that many advocates are created when the company responds effectively when things go wrong. Companies that plan to deliver great customer experiences also plan to fix things quickly and effectively when they occasionally go wrong. The internet may well have provided an effective channel to sell products and services but it is also a powerful channel for customers to share their experiences which they are doing in ever growing numbers. Caveat emptor may still apply but caveat venditor is increasingly important.

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