There’s a new kind of customer in town. She is intelligent, decisive, seeks social proof, needs information to quantify or justify her “buying” decisions, prefers shopping online, waits for the right moment to make her purchase, and looks for social warranty.
The social customer looks for social validation. She looks for information before buying. She spends countless hours researching her products and services and looks for any word – negative or positive – about any particular business or brand. According to the Digital Influence Index report, 89% percent of consumers surveyed use search engines to make purchasing decisions. RELATED CLASS: The Digital Marketer’s Guide to Mastering Search and Social Media
This is the new economy and we have a new kind of customer to deal with. What exactly are the characteristics of this brand new social customer?
The Nonchalant Loyalist
The new age, social customer is nonchalant. She can drop loyalty at a moment’s notice. She is too quick to take action and she’ll have a tendency to go moody in a flash. She has no patience and she won’t take no for an answer. If she expects something and you can’t give it to her, she’ll flee. She’ll find your competition before you can trace her down with a retargeted advertisement. If she hears one negative word about your service (and your lack of response to that negativity), she’ll know you don’t care.
If you don’t care, she won’t buy from you.
She is indifferent to your investments, your brand value, and those millions of dollars spent on advertisement money. She’ll read your blog until you are in her good books. Positive can turn negative in her little tight world of social networks.
Do you have a question? Do you need answers to a problem that’s burning your insides? Would you like to know why you “feel” in a particular way? Do you realize the repercussions of that symptom – that health problem you were too embarrassed to share with your friends? Welcome to the new age of conversations.
The Internet is one huge water cooler and you have conversations about everything – spreading across a wide range of communities. Your new customer is an incurable conversationalist. She gets out to talk, to share, and to ask questions. She seeks answers to her burning problems and looks for solutions from a morass of answers that’ll pile on top of one another.
On the Internet, everyone is an extrovert. There’s just no way to stop these conversations from spreading. The best you can do is to involve yourself in those conversations and make a difference by solving problems.
The Review Addict
The post-recession breed of social customer needs information before they decide to put that money down on the table. Before they dine out, they check out the restaurant’s reviews on Yelp. Before they buy a smartphone, they check out the latest on Engadget or Gizmodo. Before they launch their website, they wade through the technical abyss at SitePoint.com or WhoIsHostingThis.com. You get the idea…
Is your customer looking for social validation for any brand or business? She is likely to visit Facebook fan pages or Twitter feeds for those keywords in question.
Your new social customer is a review addict. She thrives on social proof and she’ll do all she can to find out more about you. Everything about you that isn’t on your advertising, sales letters, emails, or website.
The Natural Communicator
Socially savvy customers tend to have clout. They have influence and they are likely to have people listening to their opinions. They are expressive and eloquent. They are powerful communicators and are natural observers. They find square pegs in round holes and they’ll leak information out before you even begin to look around.
Basically, businesses and brands ought to behave. You have to respond to comments, attend to issues, solve problems, and cater to demands customers make. Social customers don’t tend to send out one-on-one emails on your ticket support system. Even if they do, what you do next determines what goes out on their social network feeds.
Today’s customers aren’t tight introverts. They are, in fact, beneficiaries of a brave new world that also accommodates introverts.
They know how to communicate with power, passion, and authority. In fact, their followers or readers trust them more than they trust you.
The Demanding Expectant
Customer service for many businesses took a new route because the traditional way of serving customers just won’t work anymore.
Today, customers are super-demanding. They need answers yesterday. They’d expect businesses to solve problems even before they arise. The profile of today’s social customer is such that businesses roll on auto-mode to predict bottlenecks in their services and issue callbacks for products before customers point it out.
Today’s customers just expect. They want you to be proactive about your business. You can’t just launch and sit down to count cash. You’d, in fact, have to be on your toes – from launch to close.
Your customer is demanding, almost child-like, emotional, and unforgiving. They now demand with a huge soundboard that involves tools such as social media, blogs, and communities.
What’d you do?
The Pampered One
Over time, customers get used to anything. By the time you are reading this, they are already pampered by your competition. Your new age social customer feels empowered by the amount of information she has. She loves the reassurance she gets from social media where her fans, followers, or friends and she won’t hesitate to share what she knows about your brand or business.
She has more friends than ever. She is habituated to act in a certain way, visit certain sites for her specific needs, read a few publications for information consumption, and get all the attention she didn’t even ask for from your competition.
Either you get her attention or someone else will.
You might now begin to think that today’s customers are impossible. They aren’t. They just developed new habits. As marketers, our job is to adapt (again) to these new trends. We ought to plug into this new customer behavior. We’ll have to cater to these new habits.
This is exactly how traditional marketing alone won’t fit into the overwhelming job of making your customers come to you. You’ll need an intelligent mix of digital, traditional, and trust-based marketing to get the job done.
What are some of the other habits your customers/readers/subscribers would have developed?
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Read more: Why Your Brand Needs Social Customer Service