Study: Social Media Not Replacing Customer Service

Study: Social Media Not Replacing Customer Service

A new study on consumer behavior found that social media has less impact on buying decisions than other social interactions.

Although Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are gaining ground in affecting consumer behavior, they are still not the top influencers, a new study says.

Social media does not yet warrant a lot of hype when it comes to how consumers make purchases, but it is becoming increasingly important.

“Social media does not yet warrant a lot of hype when it comes to how consumers make purchases, but it is becoming increasingly important, said Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group, the customer-experience research and consulting firm that conducted the research published last week.

The study surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers about how social sources, including Facebook and Twitter, ratings and reviews websites, and more traditional interactions such as discussions with friends and family influence their decisions about buying cars, cellphones, computers, credit cards, health plans, insurance policies, and TVs.

Although social media sources remain relatively low on the list of influencers, but the study found that they did gain ground since last year. The largest growth in social media influence occurred in insurance and cellphone purchases.

For most purchases, though, consumers are more influenced by information from company websites and discussions with store employees. Those in-store interactions show the continuing importance of customer service to making the sale—a finding likely to resonate with associations looking to increase member engagement, conference attendance, or sales of products and services.

Whether implementing a staff-wide, team commitment to better service or creating a “member-centric” culture, many associations are continually seeking ways to improve their customer service skills.

Holly Carson, meetings director of Community Associations Institute, believes in taking the time to speak with each of her customers, be they vendors or members, individually by phone, which creates a more traditional “social” effect.

Being available to customers “creates a trickle-down effect of positive customer service because they’ll share that information with other people,” Carson told Associations Now.

What techniques have you implemented to improve your association’s customer service and get the word out to others?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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