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Importance of Customer Service in a Social World

This post originally appeared on realfitsocial.com .

This morning I was on the phone with Priceline about rescheduling a flight for my trip to Sochi (more on that later!) and had a particularly unpleasant experience with their customer service representative. At one point, he asked me to stop talking and if it was ok for him to speak yet. After hanging up, I took to twitter and got quite a few responses to my tweet at Priceline voicing my disappointment.

This got me thinking. My one poor experience caused several other people to not want to do business with a company. This shows the extreme importance of customer service, especially when you can post about all service experiences, good or bad and have it be public for everyone to see. People are much more willing to post a negative experience than a positive one, so making the most of every customer interaction is key.

How many of you have tweeted at a brand and received a fun, playful response? (Would love to hear your favorites in the comment section) How about a bad experience? Did that make you more likely to spend your money there again? One brand that does this particularly well is Chipotle. If I tweet that I’m headed there, they’ll say “See you soon!” making you feel welcomed and I’m even more excited to devour that burrito bowl.

I had a negative experience at Boloco a few months ago, tweeted about it and their founder, John, reached out to me directly to ask about it. He offered me a gift card to motivate me to go back to see if I’d have a better experience the next time. Well, it worked! All it took was a tweet. Boloco could have ignored my complaint for any number of reasons, but they chose to see if they could correct it.

Every single tweet has the power to make an impact. What does that mean for a brand? Treat every tweet as you wish to be (re)tweeted. Every tweet is the opportunity to gain, or lose a customer, potentially forever.

Like Jana and Jenna have shared, their positive experiences with a brand have solidified their loyalty to the specific brand. This is a new opportunity, as previously this would only be possible by picking up the phone to give a company feedback. Social Media provides for a much more casual forum for a similar opportunity.

Why does all of this matter? As Jenna and Stephanie mention, customers want to interact! In a world where we’re all so hyper-connected yet disconnected all at the same time (think of a packed train with everyone on their cell phone and nobody actually talking) people are looking to join these micro-communities online. FitFluential, GirlsGoneSporty and SweatPink are a couple great examples of this, along with all of the twitter chats that exist. People come to these communities looking to learn from others and connect with like-minded people. When approached the right way, it’s a great opportunity for a brand or someone offering a service (nutrition counseling, athletic coaching, etc) to get their name out into the community. Contribute and be a resource (my 3rd tip on how to have a positive social media presence!) and you’ll start to see more people coming your way.

Let’s get back to the main purpose of this post. In today’s world it is extremely important to have terrific customer service.

As shown in the graphic, people are much more likely to share a negative experience with others than a positive experience. It’s often easier to lose a customer than it is to gain one, As Bill tweeted above, one negative experience I had totally turned him off from a specific company in the future.

What are some brands I’ve noticed that do it right? I’ve personally received gifts/coupons/product from a couple brands (Raw Rev & Nature’s Path to name a few) and as a result, have continued to share them with friends and coworkers. Several of these people have become customers of theirs as well. This occurred because they noticed I was saying good things about them, and wanted to thank me. I’m happy to continue to do business with them, and will pass along my positive feedback to others.

So what?

What does this all mean? The gap between the brands that have grasped the value of a good social media presence combined with awesome customer service and those that haven’t will continue to grow significantly in 2014. There will be less of an in-between, and those that embrace it will be rewarded with consumer loyalty, positive brand image, and most importantly, sales.

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