One of the things I learned at BlogIndiana was how damaging a negative comment can be for a company’s online reputation.  Consumers are 3  – 4 times more likely to click on negative reviews first, so unanswered complaints linger long after the issue is resolved.

twitter1At the same time, mobile devices and social networks are putting more and more power into the hands of the consumer.    Think about these statistics:

  • 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands link to user generated content.  This is information and content over which the company has no control.
  • 34% of bloggers (200,000,000 of them) post content about products, services and brands
  • 78% of consumers are more likely to trust peer recommendations

With all this emphasis on the power of the individual, I started to think about my own usage of social media and my blog to sound off about customers service both good and bad.  Some of my favorite blog posts are the humorous tirades against a manufacturer or service provider, for example:

  • The UnHelp Desk – One of my first, and still my favorite product rants against HP and their customer service line
  • Bad Customer Service is Worse PR – written by Allison this summer about her experiences with AT&T
  • How to lose a customer – Written by former Roundpeg employee Erica Gardner after struggling to get a web host to release a domain at the client’s request.

But it is not all bad news, complaints and brand bashing.  Here are a few posts about how social media can be used to deliver great customer service and build brand loyalty

  • Twitter and Customer Service –  Wellpoint’s David Finkel, senior vice president of service operations uses twitter to keep tabs on what people are saying and resolve issues in real time.
  • Discount Tire Gets My Vote – This is one of my favorite positive posts about a company I never expected would get social media

Rereading all these posts it is clear to me that your product is more then features and benefits.  It is a complete customer experience which often includes service, warranty and support.   In the long run, it is how well you deliver these elements which grow your brand, reputation and repeat business.