- By Keith Kirkpatrick
- September 19, 2022
Capturing customer feedback through surveys can be extremely useful, particularly when detailed information is provided immediately after an interaction has taken place. But many insights and details about a product, service or brand may not surface through these targeted, highly specific feedback-collection mechanisms.
Instead, many organizations have deployed social listening, which is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of a brand, competitor, product, service, keyword, or trend by users. According to a report from Social Media Today and Meltwater, 61% of businesses now have a social listening system in place, and are monitoring for keyword mentions.
Without the constraints of a survey, organizations can better understand a brand’s perception in the market, uncover the pain points in the customer journey, and obtain insights that will help them to improve CX. Social listening also allows companies to view the decision-making process of its customers, directly through the lens that prospective customers use when they are seeking information about a particular brand, a product, a service, or even trends that may influence their purchase decision.
These insights can amplify and clarify feedback captured through official channels, and often can provide additional insights that customers may be reluctant to provide. This is especially important, as people often provide more honest and detailed feedback when addressing their peers (other customers, prospects, etc.) than when interacting directly with the company’s official channels or representatives. The learnings from social listening can then be applied across the entire customer journey, from the initial marketing and sales contact all the way through to the support and repurchase interactions.
Several aspects of the customer experience that can be identified through social listening include:
- Current, ongoing problems that customers have with a product or service, to help the organization develop specific solutions
- The most desired solutions and features, as noted by both customers and prospects, to aid in product development and marketing
- Typical questions asked by prospects and customers during the decision-making process, to improve the sales process
- Customers’ brand perception, vis-à-vis competitors
- Customers’ sentiment, attitudes, and likes and dislikes about a brand’s products, services, or solutions
- Typical friction points in the buying, use, and support processes, for continuous process improvement
- Relevant industry trends
- Current consumer purchasing and usage trends
- Overall brand visibility measurements, including brand saturation, leadership position, and reputation
- Corporate and social responsibility trends, and the impact on companies in the space
- Evaluation of current ad campaign effectiveness and resonance with customers
- Top influencer discovery, enabling a brand to know who its customers follow and candidates for cultivation
Social listening can also be used to enhance customer engagement. By using both artificial intelligence (AI) bots and human staff to quickly respond to customer comments, questions, or complaints, a company can demonstrate that it genuinely cares about them as a person, prospect, and customer. It also provides the ability to correct a dispute or pain point raised by a customer in a less formal, more conversational manner.
For social listening to be successful, organizations need to ensure that the goals of the program are clearly defined, as the sheer volume of data and insights can be overwhelming. Indeed, a social listening program charged with improving the customer experience may look very different than one focused on crisis management or product ideation.
Several software applications are available to help organizations monitor and respond to social media activity that mentions their brand, product, or service. And while most include some sort of AI-based tool to help manage the deluge of content, it is vitally important for managers to take the time to not only look at the content of what is being said on social platforms, but also assess traffic patterns to determine how internal factors (company-driven activities, such as product announcements, launches, or recalls) and external forces (competitor actions, economic trends, or product trends) influence the volume, type, and content of social media activity.
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