How social media research can put the customer at the heart of your business
Being customer focused or customer-centric is a rallying call for most businesses these days. After all, if you don’t look after your customers – someone else will.
However, building a clear customer centric strategy that runs through the entire organisation presents quite a challenge. Different departments have very different information needs. So collecting the right customer intelligence and breaking it down into relevant, actionable information that each department can work with, is a key objective for handling “big data”.
One very cost effective way to create a hub of customer intelligence that can be easily disseminated to different departments is through web listening. By analysing thousands of conversations about your brand on the web, we can create timely, relevant reports for each department, which can be acted upon accordingly.
Based on the diagram below you can see how web-listening can benefit other departments. Firstly it dovetails with other market research programmes, which usually reside within Marketing. Web listening is a natural fit with other online research, especially online focus groups and online communities. You can highlight key topics for discussion, identify influential posters and recruit respondents for survey participation.
Web listening can also be a valuable addition to offline research programmes, especially for example in 360 degree stakeholder analysis. By connecting your existing customer loyalty and employee engagement programmes with a web based public opinion or corporate reputation index you create a more holistic picture of stakeholder assessment.
By setting more wide-ranging benchmarks for customer loyalty, employee engagement and online reputation you can see how performance in one area impacts on the other.
Customer loyalty is also closely linked to Operations. Web listening enables you to discover where perceived “pain points” lie and how they can be rectified to improve performance. For example find out about commonly reported service issues, levels of satisfaction for call centre operations or performance of specific branches.
Web listening also provides a key intelligence platform for PR. It’s not just about the tactical - fire fighting through responding to disgruntled customers. Issues picked up on forums and social media are often at the vanguard at what is to follow on mainstream media. “Red flags” can be identified early and if acted upon, PR disasters averted.
PR and Media departments are still coming to terms with how best to interact with customers through social media. By monitoring key issues being discussed, understanding tone and language, identifying the main influencers and prioritising response to the most frequently used social media platforms, web listening, helps you engage with customers more meaningfully. It is the first step to building your social media PR strategy.
Web listening can also play a major role in R&D. For example, Listerine mouthwash has been used by consumers to successfully treat toe nail fungus and as a mosquito repellent. Such diverse applications would have not been discovered if it wasn’t for conversations in forums gaining traction on the web. As well as new product uses, the internet is a powerful tool to harness consumers’ ideas for product enhancement and development. Not only through identifying areas for improvement with existing products but coming up with ideas for new products or new functionality. Ideas can be channelled through more structured co-creation projects which in turn bring customers closer to the brand.
Of course there is the ongoing issue of data overload, with information flooding into a variety of departments from a number of different sources. By using web listening as a data hub and integrating it with other data sources, reports or dashboards can be tailored to fit the individual needs of different departments, hierarchies and geographies. For a small budget outlay across many divisions, Web-listening can be used to improve business decisions for numerous departments from business administration to IT, as well as providing the conduit for central customer intelligence. As a business resource, it truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
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