I am not one to suffer poor customer service in silence. Regrettably, the last week has provided me with the opportunity to be unusually prolific. I’ve written an email to the furniture retailer who didn’t deliver on time, sent several tweets while on hold with an airline, and followed up with an email to that airline about the multiple errors in my bookings. Last week’s restaurant with the wonderful chef was noted on Yelp, as well as the interminably slow service. The florist who sent me near-dead lilies was also called out on Yelp. And I’ve responded to two online surveys, offering both companies what I hope was constructive advice on how they could improve their service for future customers — of whom I am unlikely to be among.
I am not alone. According to Forrester’s North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009 (US), 68% of North American consumers say that they've had unsatisfactory service interactions in the past 12 months. And many of us are not suffering in silence: 71% of these consumers have provided feedback directly to the company through surveys, phone calls, emails, or letters. Further, 16% of these consumers who have had bad service experiences have vented through social channels, such as online customer reviews, Facebook status updates, or blog posts.
I love social media. I appreciate the way it's allowed me to stay close to family and friends, even though I live 2,200 miles from my hometown. I'm grateful for the constant flow of amusing, helpful and interesting information it provides. I am thankful for the many interesting people I've met and gotten to know via social media (including but not limited to Jeremiah, Steve, Anna, Amber, David, Ian, Ben, Stefano, Brian and others). I love the professional opportunities it has furnished to me, particularly my role here at Forrester. And I especially value the way social media is changing the world -- making it flatter and more transparent, challenging the ways we conduct business, elevating the importance of relationships and affinity and encouraging more listening and responsiveness.
But there are some things I'm sick of in social media. Do you share these dislikes? Any you'd care to add?
I'd begun to think of LinkedIn as a sleeping giant -- a company that had achieved success and was resting on its laurels, and those laurels were resting on increasingly thin ice. LinkedIn has become the de facto standard for professional networking and recruiting, but what had it done lately? Its groups seemed spammy (a problem that weakened Monster, once the undisputed leader in recruiting), and at least outwardly LinkedIn wasn't assertively innovating (an ailment that caused the downfall of Myspace). But with a burst of new features, it seems the professional networking site isn't sleeping any longer, and I am particularly impressed with Signal, a new intelligence tool currently in beta.
Ever heard a senior leader in your organization proclaim “Everyone’s in sales!”? I have. In fact, it’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot in the last three years from executives at conferences, industry events, client meetings and more. To me, it’s right up there with “All hands on deck!” and “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” (only in a less evocative, corporate-speak kind of way).
Yet during the most recent recession, the phrase has taken on a more urgent tone and seems to mean: “Demand stinks. Drop what you’re doing. Advocate for the company.” Particularly among already hyper-efficient companies, stimulating demand with a whole-company response may just be one recipe for retaining existing jobs and creating new ones.
But are employees responding? Forrester’s most recent Workforce Forrsights survey suggests few actually heed this executive call to action.
As an extension of our Empowered research series looking at employee empowerment, we decided to measure employee advocacy by borrowing the methodology of Net Promoter. We surveyed over 5,000 information workers across five countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. We included 18 different professions and multiple industries. In the report, "Do Your Employees Advocate For Your Company" we use two questions to measure employee advocacy:
How likely are you to recommend your company’s products or services to a friend or family member?
How likely are you to recommend a job at your company to a friend or family member?
Lately, I've been working on behalf of some Forrester clients to answer the question, "How do we build a community?" Frequently, the answer is, "You don't build a community. You expand it." Few communities appear ex nihilo at the behest of a technology vendor. More commonly, successful community sites identify an existing collection of like-minded people, then entice them to your site with something of value to them.
Developer communities are a good example. Megavendors like Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM have an easy time creating a community site, since there are already a lot of developers connected to these companies, and to each other. If SAP never created its own community site, somewhere in Social Media Land there would be a collection of technical professionals talking to each other about customizing and implementing SAP applications.
Smaller vendors, of course, don't have nearly as easy a time. If you're a sales force automation (SFA) vendor, for example, there are plenty of people out there interested in sales force effectiveness, but far fewer interested in your tool. Since developers have no direct stake in managing a sales force, you can't count on them to be interested in you in the same way that a sales VP might be. Therefore, it's hard to see why developers would participate in a SFA vendor's forums, except when they have an immediate question that needs answering. (Usually in the form of, "Why doesn't this work?")
His big takeaway is that consumers are still much more likely to provide feedback directly to companies through more traditional channels (like surveys, phone calls, email, and postal mail) than provide feedback through social channels. More specifically, 71% of US consumers who had unsatisfactory service interactions in the past 12 months provided feedback through at least one traditional channel (including email), while only 16% provided feedback through any of the social channels we asked about.
Despite the buzz around social media, this data shows that the majority of customer feedback comes directly to companies via surveys, phone, and email. Organizations should implement sophisticated voice-of-the-customer programs that use text analytics and other technologies to mine this information to better understand customers' needs and the issues they're dealing with, identify best practices, and come up with improvements whenever possible.
Today, Facebook and MySpace announced a collaboration. MySpace users can now log in using Facebook and leverage their collection of Facebook "Likes" to instantly create a highly personalized entertainment experience on MySpace. On the one hand, this is hardly earth-shattering news: MySpace already announced and launched its new entertainment-focused mission, and Facebook has been integrated into more than 1 million Web sites. But that doesn't mean there isn't anything interesting about today's news:
MySpace is reinvigorated and innovating rapidly. For a site that hadn't changed much in years, MySpace is suddenly looking awfully innovative. Of course, it needs to be; News Corp. has made it clear that MySpace quickly must demonstrate success, and MySpace is taking this challenge very seriously. In the past three weeks, MySpace has announced its new format, launched it and already rolled out its first major innovation with a partner.
We’ve launched four specific areas of focus (although you can always suggest more). Will 2011 be . . .
The year location-based services go mainstream?Thus far, checking in from real-world locations has been an activity reserved for early adopters, but this behavior is growing, being spurred on by innovation from foursquare and Facebook. Will this be the “hockey stick” year for foursquare, where growth kicks into hyperdrive? Or will Facebook roll over foursquare as it did MySpace? And what will it take to hook the masses in the check-in craze?
The year of trust?Trust has always been an important brand attribute, but in 2011 it will become crucial for brands to earn followers, affinity and advocacy. How will brands earn trust in social media channels? How will trust be measured? What happens to brands that lose on trust? What steps will Facebook take to earn more trust as the social network continues to integrate itself into consumers’ surfing, social and mobile habits?
Six weeks ago, Forrester published a report some found shocking: "A Global Update Of Social Technographics®" noted that “social behaviors that require creating content have seen no substantial growth in adoption since 2009; in fact, some behaviors have experienced attrition.” After years of tracking demonstrable year-over-year growth in consumers' social behaviors, it seems the social train has ground to a halt. I created a blog post on the topic, but this didn’t seem nearly sufficient for such an important change in the most significant trend to hit marketing since the Internet went public in 1995. So today Forrester is publishing the report, “Fight Social Media Stagnation.”
The data speaks for itself — since 2007, every category of Social Technographic behavior (other than Inactives) demonstrated constant growth each year, but in 2010 that trend changed. Why? In part because we’re now reaching a point of social media saturation. With Joiners (those who maintain a profile on a social network) currently encompassing 59% of US online adults, it is inevitable that the growth of social behaviors would slow. The social media battle for the hearts and minds of US consumers has been fought and won!