How Brands Can Use Social Listening to Improve the Customer Experience
by Smadar Landau | August 1, 2017
Social media listening is one of the most important b2b trends that businesses, especially the ecommerce space, has seen in recent years. The practice of monitoring the customer voice via social for complaints, praise and feedback is an incredibly effective tool for building on the customer experience and journey. An effective Social Listening strategy can provide a significant business advantage to an ecommerce or brick-and-mortar business, and build a great brand.
The Why of Social Listening
With Social Listening, improving customer care is both a priority and a practical reality. Feedback, whether about the company or its products, can be monitored in real time using a variety of methods, with hashtags, symbols, search tools or social media monitoring tools. Promptly interacting with both positive and disappointed customers allows a company the opportunity to address negative issues immediately before they spiral, or worse, go viral.
Airlines are particularly adept at Social Listening, and generally respond within minutes to customer complaints — which can be furious and ferocious. Southwest, for example, employs a team of 30 people in its listening department. The airline’s organizational flow puts the social department as the center wheel, with spokes extending to all the other departments, including human resources, sales and operations. Southwest is one of America’s most popular airlines, because it puts people first and listens to their needs.
For younger generations and millennials, social media is the place to vent frustrations about brands and companies, and where they pose questions to the online community. Increasingly, younger generations tend to interact directly online with brands of their choice to solve problems or answer questions. Engaging consumers directly garners companies and brands an identifiable, positive response and experience online.
Product Iteration Begins With Social
Listening also facilitates a much deeper understanding of a brand’s customer base. Participating in forums, reading social media posts and writing on interactive messaging discussions are all effective strategies for engaging with and listening to the consumer.
Understanding customers is essential to improving products and services, and brands can use Social Listening to amplify their customers’ voices, consider feedback and further iterate on a product. This method benefits consumers, because it eliminates clunky robocalls or email surveys that aim to solicit feedback, and collects useful reviews and responses that the company can file away for its developer and product teams.
Iterating products based on consumer feedback shows that the company cares about the perception of its good or service, helps customers feel valued and ensures they continue to purchase. This active listening benefits the business as well, because it culls reviews from real people and helps the company form a product that is the best possible offering on the market.
Monitor the Competition Too
Listening is also particularly effective in finding out what a company’s competition is doing and how effective their online strategy is, as well as identifying advocates of a company’s own brand and products. Forums like Quora and Reddit can be particularly effective in identifying both prospective customers, as well as usable ideas and market opportunities.
Social media listening also allows a company to identify and track its biggest brand advocates. Once identified, these brand advocates can be courted as a sizable marketing resource and enticed to develop a direct, proactive brand-to-consumer relationship. Engagement is the key and social media influencers are vitally important.
Recent surveys suggest that three-quarters of consumers turn to social media to influence their buying decisions, and upwards of 90 percent of social media users are more likely to trust peer recommendations when it comes to purchasing decisions. Advocates and influencers also allow a company to expand its audience by using their followers and audiences to improve conversion rates.
An effective listening strategy goes far beyond basic monitoring and collecting of brand mentions and adds active analysis to the equation. Listening drives innovation, allows for the chance to interact with a customer base, register and effectively combat negative criticism and recruit and nurture customers.