Retailers increasingly using social media to collect consumer experiences

Companies worldwide have embraced new media technologies such as social networks, blogs and online video as a way to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, as they help consumers feel involved and heard.

Companies worldwide have embraced new media technologies such as social networks, blogs and online video as a way to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, as they help consumers feel involved and heard.

A recent study from the Customer Contact Association backs up these assertions. According to the research, consumers consider social media to be an effective medium for prompting shoppers to speak about their experiences and, conversely, compel companies and retailers to act on those opinions.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they are likely to use social media to voice a complaint, and another 46 percent believe that social media holds brands and retailers responsible for their actions to a level previously unattainable through other media.

However, the medium continues to evolve in terms of usefulness. A full 62 percent of business respondents said their responses to consumer complaints could be improved through a better of understanding of what their customers are saying on social media.

"Organizations are devoting much time and effort to responding to the voice of the customer but operating in a multi-channel environment requires a fresh approach," stated Anne-Marie Forsyth, CEO of the Customer Contact Association. "Consumers, particularly younger ones, are far more likely to turn to Facebook than pick up a phone to make their views known."

In fact, two-thirds of consumers ages 16 to 24 reported that they use social media to discuss negative experiences, while 61 percent use it to share positive experiences. Furthermore, 59 percent of all respondents said brands and retailers should pay more attention to what consumers are saying on social networks to make changes and improvements.

However, social media is not the only method for collecting customer feedback to which businesses are turning.

"Below the waterline, there is a huge amount of untapped information in recorded phone calls, emails, conversations on social media and even employees' own notes - all of which can provide organizations with a true voice of the customer," explained David Parcell, Verint managing director.

Shoppers are also using mobile devices to connect with brands in new ways, including conducting price comparisons, signing up for social media deals and recommending products.