Strategic Insights from Feedback via Social Media

Strategic Insights from Feedback via Social Media
By Dr. Gary Edwards

Big data is here to stay. Companies have access to more information than at any other point in history. The most capable brands are using that information to transform internal processes, increase market share and create truly exceptional customer experiences.

Customer feedback mechanisms play an important role in delivering strategic insights to brands. Even a simple customer feedback survey has the potential to generate huge volumes of data. With a capable customer experience management (CEM) program, companies can generate an average of 30 or more responses per month per location. If the brand has 250 locations and the survey has 20 questions, the result is 2 million individual points of customer feedback each year.

But obviously, surveys aren’t the only tool that can be used to capture customer feedback. For a more comprehensive perspective, brands need to expand their focus to include a wide range of data sources—including social media.

According to recent Empathica research, six in ten consumers follow at least one brand via a social network like Facebook or Twitter. Additionally, one in three consumers have followed through on a recommendation they received through social media.

So consumers are clearly interacting with brands via social media and creating opportunities for companies to cull key insights from the social graph. But before companies implement technologies designed to amplify social media insights, there are several issues that need to be considered.

  • How to leverage brand advocates: The best time to capture positive feedback is at the moment of truth, when the customer has just had a positive experience with the brand and is most likely to become a brand advocate. To stimulate feedback, think about how your technology might be able to offer social media recommendations based on the item purchased, service characteristics, store location or other aspects of the buying experience.
  • How to deal with negative feedback: Brands need to recognize the value of both positive and negative social media insights. Although it’s helpful for your technology to identify and mobilize positive feedback, it should also be capable of managing negative feedback in a manner that enables you to do more than simply react to disgruntled customers.
  • What you do with the feedback:  Social media feedback has no value until it is translated into actionable insights or used to help drive recommendations. In addition to aggregating and segmenting the data you receive via social media, consider how you might be able to use advocacy feeds to mobilize recommendations and distribute them to other social media outlets in real time.

The bottom line is that while many brands are effective at gathering big data, relatively few are equipped to fully utilize the feedback they capture from social media. Given the amount of information that is being generated via social media, brands can take a big step forward by simply prioritizing the implementation of technologies that enhance the use of social media insights.

Dr. Gary Edwards is Chief Customer Officer of Empathica. He is responsible for oversight of sales, marketing, client strategy, marketing science and retail insights. Gary has served a key leadership role during program development, implementation, and follow-up with clients for the past eight years at Empathica. His prior experience includes serving as a Senior Vice President at Maritz: Thompson Lightstone and an account executive in the then newly formed Financial Services Research Group.