Why Social Media is NOT a Gold Mine of Customer feedback and not for Customer Service
In this article we will recommend you don’t use social media for feedback, even though it may look tempting. For example, according to Pew – In the United States, an estimated 244 million people used social media in 2018, a number forecast to exceed 257 million by 2023. So there is an incentive for a business to tap into such a large number and obtain reviews.
However these reviews lack an insightful and descriptive endorsement. Instead, they are demonstrative of a very personal negative experience which is based on a multitude of factors apart from just the product or service. Moreover they are from a low sample, usually from a non target audience, not a consumer with whom you should direct message.
Although the importance of “feedback” cannot be undermined, the quality of response received from social media may not always be reliable, accurate or even complimentary. This means, it is important for business owners to understand the disadvantages of social media in providing an accurate picture of the customer’s experience.
Furthermore, there are many reasons why these reviews are dangerous to rely on and in fact have written about this before . For now, we will focus on the top five.
ONE: Reviews are Based on Factors You May Not Control
There are many factors that influence the customer’s experience and those factors may not always be in within the control of the business. The reason behind a negative comment within a bad customer review may not always be a bad product or sub-par company encounter. There are several factors that are constantly affecting the customer’s decision. Is the customer irate because they are having a bad day? Did they get stuck in traffic? Did their friend already order for them? It is an incontestable fact that the experience of the customer is marred by such factors – totally out of control of the brand.
One bad review or one customer feedback can significantly affect the reputation of the business. Individuals have diverse opinions, tastes and preferences and may not have anything to do with the quality of customer service. This means social media delivering one sided reviews with impossible expectations for a response.
TWO: Reviews Are Not Representative
The reviews on social media do not differentiate between the opinions of a connoisseur and a novice. Or a knowledgeable expert and a college student looking to kill time on the internet. The internet is an extremely democratic space. It does not differentiate. It is not surprising that even the great wall of China has received bad reviews on Google and even Youtube. The review websites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor give everyone an equal opportunity to post a review about their experience, regardless of whether they are seasoned critics or first time customers. This led the New York Times to say:
Why You Can’t Really Trust Negative Online Reviews
Add to this with the notion of being unrepresentative. A report from the University of Illinois shows that while there has been a prolific growth in Twitter users – Twitter activity is highly concentrated among a small subset of very heavy users.
The top 15% of users accounted for 85% of the content
If a rant is not a survey, and the review is skewed to a fake or winier group – then Facebook and other review sites simply provide consumer stories for a social media customer group.
THREE: Reviews Are Not Actionable
The reviews are often a subjective rant, which means Facebook or Yelp are review sites only without specific survey data so these reviews fail to provide an objective or informative opinion. Instead they put across a very biased description of the company, customer service, or any part of the customer experience. The customer service examples will likely be inaccurate and misrepresentative. Too many reviews lack real ratings – therefore how can the business act in this world of undefined critique?
For example, even Yelp refuses to give any guidelines about its own star rating. This means one persons five star event could be a jaded astronauts’ three star. Moreover a star, like a Smiley Face without guidelines only encourages sentiment, not accuracy. Remember it is not a survey.
Additionally, by the time a review has been posted (fake or not) – it is already too late. The brand damage has been done and opinion of the company shattered without management having an opportunity to respond on the spot.
FOUR: Reviews Are Not Genuine
Bogus review are a problem of epidemic proportions. There are several businesses that have hired professionals and agencies to help them augment their presence on social media by posting fake reviews and awarding fake stars. Specifically, according to Brightlocal Research:
82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year, though they’re not always easy to spot
There is big money in a fake review. In fact an undercover story from NBC News found it easy for a business to purchase hundreds of reviews within days of opening. More evidence was uncovered:
On Amazon, one reviewer had posted 676 book reviews in the past six months — every single one of them was four or five stars out of five. Many had the same generic text and a similar headline: “I really liked it!”
FIVE: The Business Cannot Respond In Time
Most customers expect a company to reply to an issue on the same platform within a day!
Ironically, most businesses fail to meet this contact performance standard; Specifically:
Eighty-three percent (83%) of people expect companies to reply within a day or less, and 38% of people expect companies to respond in an hour or less. (clutch.co)
This sheer weight of traffic, comment and reviews mean brands are playing catch up at best. Although more likely outgunned and overmatched by sheer volume.
In 2016 only 30% of brands had a dedicated customer service handle on Twitter, and only 10% of those brands with customer service handles reply to more than 70% of their mentions. The average response rate was only 42%.
Another study shows the expected customer service response was unobtainable:
“As a result, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within 60 minutes.” (freshsparks.com)
So the conclusion here is that with social media – the business has no way to tell the good from the bad, and even if it uses their platform for feedback will not be able to respond in time. Customer service will tank, company reputation will suffer.
Don’t Use Social Media For Feedback.
Relying on these reviews reviews is bad for business. There are five main reasons supported by too many examples where they are unreliable, unrepresentative and just plain dangerous. Moreover they yield almost no data, and are not a substitute for a survey.
There is a more effective solution.
- Enable on location, real-time feedback at your location
- Allow negative feedback to trigger instant alerts to your staff
- They can then fix the issue and connect with the customer – before they leave
- With everything available on a private online dashboard
This strategy pre-empts negative feedback ever showing up online so no more nasty surprises on Facebook, Tripadvisor or even Instagram.
Feedback Resources to Deliver a Return
Get ahead of customer feedback and understand how to improve operations, lower HSE risk and deliver greater customer loyalty. The feedback must be structured, in a short survey – and delivered on location via the cell phone. The platform should deliver analyis and opportunity for the organization to take action.
Have a strong social media presence, and use it to acquire potential customers, but forget this idea of feedback as a social network, social listening or social channel. The costs are just too high.