Social media will be the primary consumer watchdog within 10 years, new research shows, overtaking traditional media channels as the single biggest influence on purchasing decisions.
According to international research by advisory firm BDO, based on surveys with 479 business leaders, businesses that fail to embrace social media will struggle to spark sales over the next decade.
While almost half of Asia-Pacific companies monitor social media commentary about their organisation, only a third actively use social media to enhance relationships with customers.
BDO partner Stephen Coates says companies need to get past the idea that social media is just a fad, saying this is a dangerous way to approach it.
“Social media is a part of society… Every customer now has an instant, global and searchable means to broadcast feedback about your business – good or bad,” Coates says.
“The continued growth of social media will see consumer purchasing decisions being increasingly influenced by online community-based feedback.”
Rather than shying away from social media, Coates describes it as the “ultimate mechanism” for an organisation to create transparency in order to build trust, which in turn creates loyalty.
“Social media makes it difficult for organisations to hide issues or problems,” he says.
“Being upfront and addressing issues as they arise is important now, but will be even more critical over the next decade.”
The BDO report, titled Service 2020: Megatrends for the decade ahead, provides a blueprint for the prioritisation of service development opportunities over the coming decade.
The report explores how successful organisations have built and sustained excellent client service, and outlines eight predictions on how customer service will change over the next decade.
Here’s the top three megatrends for the decade ahead:
1. Global competition
Global competition will drive up service standards.
In an increasingly commoditised and competitive global marketplace, with aggressive new market rivals expanding rapidly, customer service will be used by a rising number of companies as a competitive differentiator.
While quality is seen today as the key means of standing out from the crowd, especially for B2B organisations, service will be the clear focus for all organisations by 2020.
2.The need for speed
Businesses must maintain service standards in the face of “the need for speed”
The need for speed is most obviously in the retail and service industries. However, consumers used to getting what they want quickly in their personal lives are also coming to expect the same in their working lives.
The key challenge for companies is the inherent tension between providing a faster service and maintaining quality levels.
Companies will have to figure out how they can speed up service delivery, and where they will need to push back on the “need for speed” and manage customer expectations.
3. Increased transparency
Businesses must learn to utilise the increased transparency brought by social media.