Savvy Social Media Users Influence Peer Purchases

For consumers, the golden rule is “buyer beware.” For marketers, it should perhaps be: “beware of socially adept consumers.” New research indicates that consumers who have used social media for service wield far greater influence among their peers.

Specifically, they tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they’ would spend 21% more with companies that deliver great service -- compared to 13% on average, according to the 2012 American Express “Global Customer Service Barometer.”

This relatively small group of consumers is extremely engaged and vocal, according to Jim Bush, EVP of World Service at American Express. 

“They … tell three times as many people about positive service experiences compared to the general population,” he said of social media users. “Ultimately, getting service right with these social media-savvy consumers can help a business grow.”

Unfortunately for many marketers, the survey -- conducted in the U.S. and 10 other countries -- also reveals a sorry state of service in general. 

Nine in 10 Americans surveyed (93%) said that companies fail to exceed their service expectations, while one out of two respondents (55%) reported walking away from an intended purchase in the past year because of a poor customer service experience. 

Ahead of social networking, the most popular way that consumers address service inquiries continues to be speaking to a live representative -- either on the phone or face-to-face -- and through company Web site or e-mail. 

That said, one in five consumers (17%) say they have used social media at least once in the last year to obtain a customer service response, the survey finds.

Social users are also far more vocal about service experiences, both good and bad.  In addition, more than 80% of these consumers say they have bailed on a purchase because of a poor service experience, compared to 55% overall.

Domestically, American Express’ survey was completed online among a random sample of 1,000 adult consumers. The actual interviews were conducted by Echo Research on behalf of AmEx in late February.

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