What advice are consumers getting on contacting brands?

Everyone in consumer care is pretty immersed in listening and responding to consumers, it comes with the territory! It can be interesting to take a step back though and have a look at the advice consumers get on engaging with customer service, which we often later see reflected in behavior and expectations.

Here's a quick take on two timely topics - social consumer care and coupons.

Social Consumer Care

This recent article from Time is a fair representation of the advice media outlets give consumers on getting better service by engaging in social media. There are certainly a few thoughts in here that challenge some of the conventional wisdom, and its helpful that if anything, media advice may be steering consumer expectations in a direction many brands would find helpful.

  1. For those of us who have been told we should have service available on all/most social networks it's worth noting that consumers are advised to do some homework to pick the right channel (ie go find where the brand wants to be engaged vs pick your favorite social network).
  2. Have a look at the percentage of brand messages that get responses and the average turnaround time (8%-17% and 8.6-14.3 hours respectively), are you being too tough or easy on yourself?
  3. I often hear that we need to avoid 'channel switching,' - in this case at least consumers are advised that they will likely need to take things offline to get their issue resolved!


While media may be influencing social care expectations towards helpful norms, the topic of couponing seems to be the exact opposite. The TV show Extreme Couponing seems to be the root cause of making aggressive coupon solicitation a mainstream phenomonon. Now the practice has been picked up broadly on blogs looking for traffic to drive ad revenue (like this one and this one) or affiliate revenue (like this one).

Interestingly there are some lessons to be learned in the difference between those two categories. The first creates cost for consumer affairs and brands, with perhaps a questionable payoff. The second is actually a deliberate effort intended to get consumers opted into marketing programs. 

Many of our clients treat coupon requests as opportunities to opt consumers into direct marketing campaigns vs responding to one off requests. That seems like an excellent approach to create the most value out of these engagements. And then - is there more that can be done? With what we know about word of mouth and the value of engaging with consumers there may be opportunities to create (and get funding for!) some deliberate brand building programs!


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Topics: strategy, social media, consumer care operations