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Study: Search Plays Key Role in Brand Loyalty, Customer Care Research

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A new study about social media customer care had some interesting finds about how search factors into brand loyalty. While 59.1% of study participants use social media to vent about customer experience, 90% said search was valuable in finding information about customer care.

This data is among the initial findings of a new study conducted by the Society for New Communications Research entitled, “Exploring the Link Between Customer Care and Brand Reputation in the Age of Social Media.”

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies: 25- to 55-years old, college-educated, earning $100,000+ - a very powerful group in terms of buying behavior,” said Dr. Ganim Nora Barnes, senior fellow, Society for New Communications Research. “These most savvy and sought after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies: listen, respond, and improve.”

Customer care was a key determinant in brand loyalty.

• 72.2% of respondents research companies' customer care online prior to purchasing products and services at least sometimes
• 84% of respondents consider the quality of customer care at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company
• 74% choose companies/brands based on others' customer care experiences shared online
• 84% of respondents consider the quality of customer care in their decision to do business with a company at least sometimes
• 81% believe that blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice regarding customer care, but less than 33% believe that businesses take customers' opinions seriously

“With consumers increasingly using social media to share feedback on their care experiences, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to ignore or hide from bad experiences,” said Lynda Kate Smith, vice president, Care Business, Nuance Enterprise Division. “As this research highlights, the consumer's voice is louder and travels further than ever before. One poor customer interaction can have a very significant impact on a public impression of a brand.”

If you want examples of how to do it right, look to Dell and Amazon. They were cited more frequently than any other company in using social media to respond to customer care issues. Breaking it down by industry, technology, retail, and travel companies were reported as doing it well, but utilities, health care, and insurance have some catching up to do in the brand loyalty department.

Related Reading:
Search Gains on Social Media in Share of Online Video Referrals
Don't Be Afraid of Social Media -- Your Customers Aren't
FriendFeed: The Search Engine for Conversations
Social Media Meets Local Search


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