Today’s Customers are LOUD!

The internet has increased customers’ assertiveness in voicing their views.  Social media is completely changing the landscape of communication.  Social media drives five times the impact of traditional word of mouth.  According to research, 62% of customers who read about a bad experience on social media stop doing business with or avoid doing business with the offending company.  This “secondary smoke” phenomenon will grow as the use of social media increases with more and more consumers being digital natives rather than digital immigrants.

Smart organizations provide lots of vehicles and channels for customers to easily and register their feedback and suggestions.  “Most good innovation comes from customers,” says former Ebay CEO John Donahue.  “The more time we spend thinking in the ivory tower in San Jose, the worse off we’re going to be.”  Customers want to be treated as partners. reported how Unilever assembled a group of consumers to help them design a new health-and-beauty product called Twist.  As one executive involved in the highly successful project commented, “Often consumers take you to places that you would never thought of going to had you used more traditional research methods.”  Like the merchant in a small village, wise organizations structure an ongoing learning conversation with customers.

Many organizations struggle with how to implement a “social media strategy”.  Companies like Whole Foods and Coca Cola have been very successful in connecting with their customers via social media.  They attribute their success to starting the “old fashioned way” by listening to the conversations their customers were having over many of the social media channels.  Then they began a dialogue (two way conversation) with customers utilizing several social media channels to test effectiveness.  Their approach with social media has evolved to a very effective element in their overall voice of the customer program by involving their customer in every step of program development.

The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer research reports that nearly half (48%) of consumers report always or often using an online posting or blog to get others’ opinions about a company’s customer service reputation.  They report that when consumers go online they’re looking for “watch outs,” saying they put greater credence in negative reviews on blogs and social networking sites than on positive ones (57% and 48%, respectively).

Are you listening on lots of channels to what customers are saying about your service experience and responding to their comments with urgency?  You should be as the customer today is loud AND very powerful!

© Chip Bell Group, 2023.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.