The resources we use to help inform our purchase decisions today have changed dramatically over the past few years. This was brought home to me recently as I was considering switching my broadband provider as a result of the fairly poor service I was getting from my existing one. True, there is far more choice out there today but companies also try to make it difficult to do like-for-like comparisons. While decision-making is getting more complicated, there are far more places to go for information.

In the past purchasing was probably relatively simple. Fewer products and fewer places to go for information:

purchase-decisions-past

Much of the information was under the control of the company selling the product. If I could find one of my family, friends or neighbours who had used the company I would ask their opinion, but oftentimes if they had a bad experience I would be conscious that they may have just been unlucky.

Today, the picture is a little different with many more places to go:

purchase-decisions-present

So when I thought about a particular broadband provider, let’s call them OysterStone to protect the innocent, I was conscious of the advertising I’d seen, the messages I’d read or heard about them in the media. They appeared near the top of my search results on Google so I was reminded of them and decided to click onto their website. I visited their website to check out their packages and pricing, and compared this with what was on offer from the other providers. Now, I have to say I was quite impressed and their website made it very easy to sign up, so I thought about doing it then and there.

It was late in the evening and I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who was a customer of OysterStone’s that I could ring to see what they thought of them. So, I went on to boards.ie to see what people had written there. The reviews were mixed so I decided to stall my purchase and I put out a call on three of the social networks that I am on, namely Twitter, Facebook and IGOPeople. Well, what people didn’t say about this company – “dreadful”, “no end of problems”, “get what you pay for”, “no customer services”, “customer care is non existent”, “would not recommend to my worst enemy”, “expect hassle” and “patchy” were among the surprising amount of  comments I got back. One woman was considering taking out a hit-man on her husband because he convinced her to switch. Now there were a few positive comments, but most unfortunately were not.

So, guess what? I didn’t switch. You can have great advertising, PR and even a great website but all of that counts for nothing if I can go onto the web and find a handful of people wh0 are only too happy to tell me how bad you are.

On two of the social networks I was on and on boards.ie the conversations were all public, which meant that the sales/marketing/pr people in OysterStone would be able to see what was being said. Nowhere had they decided to step in. Would it have changed my purchase decision? Social media won’t fix your company’s problems, but if I saw that a company was listening and willing to take on customer feedback to improve their service I would be very much more williing to give  them a shot at my business. Wouldn’t you?

Share this post:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine