Digital accountability and the increasingly demanding consumer
Have you had a bad experience with a company recently and your first instinct was to use social media to convey how angry you were?
In the past, we’d write a letter of complaint; or at least plan to, and then forget about it, and, most of time, grudgingly carry on being a customer of theirs. However, it’s now so quick and easy to complain publicly through social media sites, that we’re increasingly acting on the smallest of grievances.
As we become more familiar and comfortable with social media, the ease with which we can complain to (what we’re given the illusion of believing is) the entire organisation makes it a particularly potent tool. It can also provide a powerful therapeutic benefit.
With our mobile phone in hand, we’re able to instantly take to Twitter or Facebook without thinking to pour scorn on any company that upsets us and, whereas in the past, we might have just told our partner, we now have the opportunity to tell all our friends (and followers) at the same time as the business itself.
In our minds, a complaint via social media has effectively become a mass email to head office with all of our family and friends Cc’d in.
In the process are we holding ourselves to ‘digital account’?
What is influence?
Forget about how many friends and followers the complaint reaches, or even necessarily trying to understand the impact it has on other people. It’s unlikely they’ll remember your complaint, anymore than you can recall some of the bad experiences you’ve had with a particular retail assistant, bank teller or estate agent in the past.
Instead, start to think about the influence these posts have on you. You’ve now established a digital record of your complaint and you’ve shared it with all your friends. As a result of increasing hyperdocumentation, it’s more likely that you’ll act on it then you would have in the past.
We’re effectively holding ourselves hostage to our own timelines and establishing our future behaviour on what started as the tiniest of whims.
What does this mean for businesses?
Every employee within a company is representative of the whole and, whereas, in the past it was the accumulation of lots of tiny frustrations or one particularly bad experience that could destroy the relationship with customers, a single relatively minor complaint can now have the same effect.
Because of the explosion of social media, every company that deals with the public has to be even more careful than ever before that its customers are kept happy.
Consumers now feel forced, by virtue of putting words out there, to transform them into deeds. As a result, keeping people satisfied at every stage of the customer journey is arguably more important than ever before; something Rick Wion, director of social media at fast food giant McDonald’s, has already grasped: “We understand the power of making one customer happy.”
(image courtesy of ecogreentechno)