Consumers are not in a research mode when they’re on Facebook. Instead, the first place they go to find out about a product is Google or the company web site.
That’s according to an internal study by GetSatisfaction, which found that close to 90% of customers go to a company’s website to research products or services. That’s compared to the 12% who use social networks to research brands and product details.
Get Satisfaction develops branded customer communities. And so yes, the study is a bit self serving. To be fair, CEO Wendy Lea said the company had originally done the research to guide further product development. Only later did they decide to release the results to the public.
The study does highlight the complexities and subtleties of today’s customer service environment. Companies increasingly need to think of the way they work with customers to provide a great experience. That may come down to using branded communities as much as thinking about the new generation of virtual assistants that respond to voice requests.
Get Satisfaction surveyed 2,000 people for the study. Here’s some of what they found:
- People want information on the brand web site that is from consumers who go there to talk about the products or services. They do not want a stream from a branded Facebook page.
- About 32% of consumers say these branded customer communities are the best way to get information fast.
- In a branded community, 82.6% of customers surveyed said they would advocate for that company’s products or services, and more than 50% of them would do it for free.
These results make sense from a research perspective and shows the symbiotic relationship between the search sites, brands and social communities.
People want more than one place to get information. It has to be relevant to the way we live and work. People also get influenced by their friends and peers. If a trusted colleague is talking on Twitter about a great app, it is more likely that I will check it out. But if I am researching to buy a car, I am not going to go to Facebook to look into it.
Instead, we are in a time where we want to get information as quickly as possible. Calling a toll-free number is the last thing I want to do when my cable modem is not connecting to the Internet. But talking to someone on the phone may be just what I want when trying to figure out travel logistics.
In the research, Get Satisfaction finds the need for branded communities but the advent of mobile devices is not explored in any depth.
Mobile device will drive the direction of customer service. People can easily use apps to get their questions answered. As Opus Research points out, smartphone apps can offer more functionality and a potentially better experience than web sites.
Combining the power of the cloud with apps that foster branded communities should also be considered by companies interested in the next generation of customer service.