Customer Service Retention Trends in Social Media
Research surveys have held the position that customers who were satisfied were more likely to remain loyal to a company (Klein & Einstein, 2003). When organizations delivered a customer experience that met their needs, customers returned to that organization more frequently than to its competition. However, current thought reveals only the top echelon of satisfied customers remained loyal to an organization.
I have found while teaching a course on customer retention, the best starting point is to have the students answer a few questions. This process helps a person realize the many factors that affect customer loyalty, and how these factors play on purchase decisions in his or her life. The survey thought process also shows how we are all different and have different motivations, which is important in developing customer loyalty strategies and programs.
Introducing Social Media
Today, there is a swing back to gaining knowledge of the customer and his or her behavior patterns as a key element in designing loyalty marketing plans and strategies. With the viral expansion of social media, and the younger consumer demographic’s use of social media as a daily communication tool, this phenomenon becomes an opportunity for businesses to maintain contact and provide current information to existing customers.
Traditional means of advertising and flows of providing information to existing customers are losing their effectiveness. Advertisers are not seeing positive results from newspapers and print media and have reduced expenditures in those media outlets. Social media provides free platforms and the advent of “permission-based” communication, with a huge word-of-mouth, viral scope.
People are now in a hurry—not only the younger generation but their parents too. The fastest growing segment of social media platforms is said to be those from ages 40 to 55 (Corbett, 2009). They read news on the Internet in brief “tidbits” of information, and they are multi-tasking with several software applications open at the same time. Often they are switching in the middle of a news article when a message arrives and often they never return to the article.
While surveying several social media users, I found they build trust within their social media friends and rely heavily on these friends for purchasing information and company reputation. Positive flows of purchase satisfaction can provide a major component of customer loyalty programs by company marketing departments.
Keeping a client year after year requires attaining customer loyalty which involves fitting together several pieces of a relationship puzzle. There is a science to understanding client loyalty. This includes recognizing the value of loyal clients, and creating and maintaining those loyal clients.
- Customer satisfaction–involves prior expectations of quality and customer service, and the comparison of those expectations to actual performance received.
- Perceived alternatives–have to do with the difficulty and/or the cost of moving to a new vendor or service provider.
- Business relationship–relates to how strong the business relationship is perceived.
Trends in the growth of social media are providing platforms to aid in all three of these customer loyalty influences. Businesses must begin and continue to use this important avenue of communication to increase customer service retention.