Your customers and prospects have always shared experiences and opinions concerning products and services with family, friends, and acquaintances. They rely on one another when making informed decisions about new purchases or when dealing with particularly troublesome issues – if only to have shoulders to cry on. In the Age of Collaboration, this communications channel has morphed from personalized word-of-mouth to a global party line with millions of opinion-makers and hundreds of millions of listeners. There’s no control over what people say, how they say it, or how much they influence others. It’s something that’s impossible to manage and impossible to ignore.
Fortunately, there are social media monitoring, engagement, and workflow management tools that can help you sift through a sea of information to find a treasure trove of useful insights and actionable plans. Software applications from companies like Radian6 and Buzzient search millions of public websites – e.g., on-line news publications, blogs, forums, photo/video sharing, social networks – to find and extract content based on mentions of defined keywords. Their sophisticated analytics engines process all of this data to identify:
- The most important channels and influencers based on vote count, comment count, followers/friends, hyperlinks, views expressed
- Public sentiment about your products and services – positive, negative, neutral – based on customer-defined criteria
- Attitudes toward your competitor’s products and services
- Topics and issues around which most comments focus
- Individual posts that merit a direct and personalized response
An accompanying contact or workflow management tool assigns individual posts to team members for action and response. Responses and information can be shared within the team. For example, the contact center can take responsibility for answering questions or resolving problems while gaining input from or providing feedback to the product development, marketing, and/or public relations departments. Reporting and metrics tools track activity and assess results and trends. And integration with CRM – or “Social CRM”– solution providers ensures that the transaction history is captured for future reference.
Relative to traditional customer satisfaction surveys, social media monitoring provides greater depth and clarity into what customers really think about you and how you stack up against your competitors. Their feedback is raw, real-time, and all-the-time. They don’t confine their comments to the topics about which you choose to ask in your short after-call surveys or annual polls. Where feedback leads to insights and insights lead to improvements, you’ll know where, how, and why to institute continuous improvements initiatives that deliver value for you and your customers.
Are you leveraging social media to listen to the voice of your customers?