In the past few years, I have worked with many companies whose CEO or senior leadership team has identified social media as a major focus in their customer experience programs. Many organizations have implemented social media monitoring strategies and tactics to, as its name implies, allow them to monitor and listen to everything said over social media outlets. Yet very few have embraced social media intelligence (SMI), the ability to engage with customers and bring tailored, unique customer experiences to every stakeholder.
Social Media Stakeholders and Use Cases
Let's look at the stakeholders in a typical Global 1000 company. You've got your HR folks, operations/quality professionals, sales and marketing leads, product teams, and service professionals. All these groups need to come together in a more centralized view if you are to truly build a Customer Experience Center of Excellence within your organization. When dealing with social media, there are two primary challenges: 1) addressing the "What's in it for me?" (WIFM) factor and 2) ensuring it ties into the larger organizational needs and objectives.
To illustrate how this works, let's lay out the seven primary WIFM cases that I have seen organizations regularly come up against, and that provide value-added information for the overall benefit of the organization.
- Brand Tracking: Understanding what customers in the social sphere are saying about your brand. What they like, what they dislike, what they suggest you change, what they expect from you, and how you are meeting expectations.
- Customer Satisfaction/Loyalty: Identifying the primary drivers influencing your customers' satisfaction and loyalty. Which specific things are causing measurable downfall? Are they products, services, people, or places?
- Competitive Intelligence: Identifying where you rank compared to your competitors on your organizational objectives, as well as where your competitors are pushing the envelope in areas you may not yet be focused on.
- Churn/Customer Acquisition: This is an add-on from competitive intelligence. Specifically, this looks at where you have customers who are showing emotional signs that can be tied to churn indicators—and where your competitors' customers are showing signs of churn.
- Marketing Campaign Analysis: Tracking and measuring what people are saying about your current campaign initiatives launched through traditional and social channels. Find out whether they are having the desired effect, gaining traction, or causing market confusion.
- Product Innovation: Your customers, and your competitors' customers, know what they want. Are you looking for interesting new ideas of how to push your offerings in a new or better direction? Your customers are out there providing suggestions for you. The real question is "Are you listening to them?"
- Real-Time Customer Support: Identifying "cries for help," tying those cries into existing knowledge base and FAQ systems, and providing applicable responses to customers in real time is the trend emerging in customer service. Additionally, leveraging social feedback to supplement knowledge bases enables organizations to identify super users, who can share best practices with the greater community without ever opening a support ticket.
Gaining Value for Your Organization
Let's focus on churn and customer acquisition. In today's world of social media, you have more tools than ever to provide you with the warning signs that you could potentially lose customers. Additionally, you can listen to the warning signs from your competitors' customers, because they are ripe for the picking based on their current dissatisfied state. One person's churn is another person's acquisition. This data can be located in tweets and Facebook posts, or in ratings and reviews.
If you peruse Twitter and Facebook, you will likely find comments such as: "I was astounded by how rude the service rep was...taking my business elsewhere"; "That's the last straw, the fees are simply ridiculous”"; and "I hate you, COMPANY X! Worst company ever!"
To do everything you can to mitigate the risk of losing customers, you need to find the occurrences where people are in this state of mind, and identify the root cause of the issues and reasons that are driving your customers to potentially leave. Reach out to these customers. Let them know you hear them, and that you want to make it better.
This may seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you have thousands of customers mentioning your brand on multiple platforms on a daily basis. But commercially available SMI tools can automate the analysis process and help you accurately and efficiently fulfill the above goals. These solutions should be able to listen, analyze, operationalize, measure, and filter out spam for a clear understanding of the voice of the customer as feedback is filtered in from various social media channels. If we can find the people, as well as the topics, that are causing them to want to churn, we're ready to benefit the organization as a whole and each of our corporate stakeholders, by driving revenue to the bottom line.
Social media is a complex and sophisticated opportunity to engage with customers, not only to better meet their needs and improve brand loyalty, but to also make them key stakeholders in strategic business decisions. Organizations will only be successful when they employ SMI technologies to make sense of all the feedback in real time, communicated throughout the entire organization to stakeholders with a role in improving customer experience. By using social media data alongside other forms of customer feedback (e.g., surveys and online forms) as a way of gaining enhanced inspiration for marketing campaigns, understanding your customers, becoming a more competitive player in the marketplace, and initiating conversations with customers, you have an untapped opportunity to make a measurable impact on your business and to grow your community of brand ambassadors.
Melissa Pippine is vice president of marketing at Clarabridge, where she is responsible for overall corporate and product marketing strategy, planning, and execution. Previously, she spent 10 years at American Management Systems, later CACI, in project and product management.