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BizReport : Research archives : April 23, 2008

Consumers use social media to "vent"

Just one person’s encounter with bad customer care can do a lot of damage to a brand, more so now that social media is being used by the disenchanted to expound their bad experiences online.

by Helen Leggatt

The Society for New Communications Research has released initial findings from its new study, “Exploring the Link Between Customer Care and Brand Reputation in the Age of Social Media”.

The findings suggest that many (59.1%) influential and savvy online consumers are using blogs, social networks and other social media to “vent” about bad customer care experiences.

Other consumers are taking notice, with 72.2% using the Internet to research a company’s customer care record. Micro-blogging sites and social networking sites were rated the least valuable sources for research by the 300 or so respondents, while search engines were rated most valuable.

But, does the online ranting of others really put off potential customers? Apparently it does. Eighty-four percent of respondents sometimes consider the quality of a company’s customer care in their decision to do business.

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies – 25 to 55 years old, college-educated, earning $100,000+ - a very powerful group in terms of buying behavior,” said Dr. Ganim Nora Barnes, senior fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

“These most savvy and sought after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve.”

Tags: brand reputation, customer care, social media

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