Why We Need to Follow Customer-to-Customer Feedback

Social media has put everything into a new light, as empowered customers are taking up their mobile phones and tweeting their distress for all the world to see—Becky  Carroll

Researchers Todd Arnold, Gary Frankwick and Jaewon Yoo wanted to know how the customer-to-customer relationship is affecting service today. In a joint study by Oklahoma University, the University of Texas El Paso and South Korea’s Sogang Business School, the three researchers studied…

…how positive [C-to-C] interactions affect customers’ perceived roles in service environments, and the effect such role perceptions have on willingness to participate in service processes, perceived quality and satisfaction.

Forums today are filled with opinions on products and services from companies in all industries. How much those opinions influence other consumers depends on the consumer, but real-world anecdotes tend to carry more weight with more people than opinions do, and there are plenty of anecdotes out there.

These opinions and, especially, the anecdotes affect how potential customers view a company. They may define customer expectations before any interaction takes place. They also empower customers to take an active role in service, which can make for a more positive overall experience.

From the study:

First, this study empirically demonstrates positive C-to-C interaction drives value to the customer by enhancing individual role perceptions, which then influences customer participation (directly), perceived service quality (indirectly) and, finally, satisfaction (directly and indirectly).

Arnold, Frankwick and Yoo believe we need more research on customer-to-customer relationships and that the lack of research is ‘unfortunate’ because those relationships influence perceptions of customer service.

Becky Carroll of Customers Rock! says that companies—in particular company leaders—need to follow social media to understand these perceptions…

From her blog:

Do you understand the expectations of your customers for your products, and for your customer service? If not, spend some time listening to customer conversations, talking to customers for clarification, and determining the top pain points.

With social media, everyone and their dog have a voice—customers can lodge complaints all over the place on numerous platforms. If a company isn’t listening, however, it may never learn of a weak point in its customer service.

Social media has pushed customer service to the forefront for many organizations. Responses are often faster in social media than they are in traditional service channels, since social media makes everything extremely visible. And when things go wrong, customers often flock to social media to air their grievances—Becky Carroll

Social media moves fast, it’s very public and it’s reducing companies’ room for error. But it’s also providing an avenue for faster customer service. It just requires participation.

From Janine Popick of Vertical Response:

I’m not saying that you need to be on the floor all day or answering customer service inquiries. What I’m talking about is listening to how they feel about your business and communicating back with them that you’re hearing them.

Popick says she provides email and a direct phone number on her blog and website, so customers can easily reach her—and she’s surprised by company leaders who don’t.

Citing the Harvard Business Review, which reported that only a “low percentage” of CEOs participate in social media, Popick says she was…

…shocked by some of the comments made about how CEOs have ‘people’ for that. Seeing and listening firsthand to what your customers think is crucial to your business.

Indeed. Customers are talking somewhere. And we have to be there, listening and talking too.

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