There’s an overused business adage that a happy customer will tell three customers about their experience but a dissatisfied one will tell 7, 100 or even 3000. Until now, I never stopped to think about the fact that only a couple of my 1,000 videos portray a company poorly… and most company references are positive (even when not sponsored). Maybe there’s a reason, and maybe I’m not unlike other social media users…
New research about customer service went beyond marketing hyperbole and showed some actual data about a customer’s word-of-mouth after a positive or negative service experience. It seems an individual receiving good service will tell 9 people, but after bad service they’ll tell 17. So we’re nearly twice as likely to warn people than praise a company. Bad news travels fast (and sells) right? Source: The 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer.
Now here’s where social-media users differ. We’re telling 42 people about a good experience (and that obviously varies dramatically based on whether someone has a large audience or a “real friends only” Facebook presence). But we’re telling 53 people (only an additional 11, or roughly 25%). Not twice as many people… just 25% more.
In both cases a person with a bad (verus good) service experience is going to tell more people about it. But, again, non-users of social media tell nearly twice as many people (9 vs. 17), while social-media users will tell just 25% more (42 vs. 53).
This is surprising when you consider the “bad service experience” videos that have gone viral (United Breaks Guitars or my Geek Squad Sucks, which was ignored by Best Buy so I’m still bitching). Maybe it’s because the minor issues get resolved by attentive well-meaning social media managers… especially if the service victim has a large following. The result often can change the victim to a fan, resulting in more “tweets” or videos chronicling the situation’s resolve… usually the victim just wants a minor gesture (apology, token refund, gift) to feel acknowledged.
So how do you explain the gap?
- Lack of precision of survey
- Bad experiences are not for digital, but best left to one-on-one interactions
- People with “followings” online don’t want to be seen as whiney
- Something else?