Why Customers Feel Safer When Your Business is on Social Media

Nov 29th, 2011No Comments

A funny thing happened during my search for a new car last month – I bought the car online.  No dealership, no test drive – just online photos and a long phone conversation with Aaron Manley Smith of Motorphilia.

New Prius from Motorphilia
Our new red Prius, via Motorphilia.

A risky way to spend tens of thousands of dollars?  Not really.

I knew I wanted a Prius, and one with less than 10,000 miles.  I had first talked to Aaron several weeks ago about our other (just-totaled) car, and he seemed like a good guy – friendly and knowledgeable.

But buying a car online is a big leap of faith.  Why did I trust Motorphilia?

Because he was on Facebook and Twitter and I knew I had the ability to raise Cain there, on his front door step, if he didn’t deliver.

(Spoiler:  Aaron was absolutely professional and responsive and we love the new car!)

Motorphilia’s social media presence was my own insurance policy – a potential soap box, complaint department, Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection Agency rolled into one.

This power to complain publicly was absolutely key to my willingness to fork over the $1200 deposit and go forward.  If the car never materialized or just didn’t measure up, I knew I could escalate beyond the old customer grievance grind of calling, waiting, sending a letter, waiting, etc (rinse and repeat).  Instead, I could post any complaints on Twitter, on Motorphilia’s and my Facebook pages, then blog about it and tweet out the blog post, and then rinse and repeat.

The annals of “social media as a recourse to poor service” are rife with examples of how just one person’s complaints over social media can move mountains:

These individuals are far more connected in social media than I am, some with million+ Twitter followers, YouTube viewers and blog readers.  But still.  The great good of social media is the shift of power from corporations to individuals, from sellers to buyers, from ivory towers to the masses – in other words, from the once powerful to the newly empowered.

Social media levels life’s playing field and gives everyone a voice, and often a megaphone.

Why is the social media megaphone great for businesses too?  If your company already has a great customer experience, social media just amplifies your awesomeness. And if you fall down a time or two, you get the opportunity to publicly, over social media, make things right.  People do understand you’re human, and everyone likes a tale of redemption.

For practical tips on how companies can succeed in customer service over social media, read David Toliver’s Mashable post, 7 Ways to Create a Memorable Customer Experience With Social Media.

Of course, customers don’t just complain over social media; they praise as well.  So… here are some other reasons I enjoyed the Motorphilia experience:

  • I blissfully avoided the whole car dealership “I’ll have to ask my manager” runaround.  Dealing with Aaron was a time-saving, no-haggle, no-hassle venture.
  • Aaron remotely shared a desktop window with us, which allowed us to see all the cars he was seeing.  This upped the trust factor immensely.
  • Aaron was very flexible and resourceful.  Our car didn’t originally have leather seats or window tinting and he got those extras done to a tee before he delivered the car.
  • I felt good about the whole experience.  We saved money, got just the car we wanted, and didn’t have to go through chompers to do so.

I’ve since learned that social media expert Chris Brogan bought his car through Motorphilia – here’s his excellent blog post about it and his interview with Aaron.

So social media comes full circle – I’ll post this blog, tweet about it and then post it on Facebook.  Let the word-of-mouth marketing continue!

Have you ever complained about your customer experience over social media?  Did the company respond?

-Suzanne
Twitter:  @suzanne_doughty
LinkedIn:  linkedin.com/in/suzannedoughty

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