Recent customer dispute demonstrates influence of social media

Few businesses and financial institutions will argue with the claim that social media services are changing the way customers form relationships with companies. However, some may not yet fully realize the power that social media can have on shaping consumer opinions and influencing their behavior.

Comedy writer Matt Fisher recently spoke out via tumblr.com against a popular insurance company following the death of his sister. The subscriber accused Progressive Advanced Insurance of taking the side of the driver whose vehicle hit his sister’s car, resulting in her death, according to Insurance News Net. The comments sparked international headlines and prompted many consumers to lash out against the insurance company via Twitter, Facebook and other mediums, with many threatening to cancel their policies.

The company responded that its actions fell within their legal parameters of responsibility, but the statements made by the company did little to assuage consumers’ anger.

Further, the Fisher family launched a lawsuit against the driver and Progressive, and was awarded $760,000 in damages.

The case highlights one of the many reasons financial institutions and businesses should stay abreast of what their customers are posting on social media websites, as negative commentary may damage their reputations and impact customer retention and acquisition. Many companies invest in social media management tools, which alert them when they have been mentioned on different channels.

In addition, some programs allow users to submit posts through the service, which will then be posted on all social media websites to which the business belongs. These may be effective strategies to stay relevant in a competitive marketplace and keep their reputations intact.

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